A Sudanese court’s sentencing today of a 19-year-old woman to death for killing her rapist husband in self-defence highlights the failure of the authorities to tackle child marriage, forced marriage and marital rape, Amnesty International said today.
Noura Hussein Hamad has been held in the Omdurman Women’s Prison since May 2017, and was today handed the death sentence for killing the man her father forced her to marry when she was 16 years old.
“Noura Hussein life-long wish was to become a teacher but she ended up being forced to marry an abusive man who raped and brutalized her. Now she has been slapped with a death sentence by a court which refused to recognize the existence of rape within marriage. Noura Hussein is a victim and the sentence against her is an intolerable act of cruelty,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and to apply it to a rape victim only highlights the failure of the Sudanese authorities to acknowledge the violence she endured. The Sudanese authorities must quash this grossly unfair sentence and ensure that Noura gets a fair retrial that takes into account her mitigating circumstances.”
The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and to apply it to a rape victim only highlights the failure of the Sudanese authorities to acknowledge the violence she endured.
Noura Hussein was married against her will to Abdulrahman Mohamed Hammad at the age of 16. The first marriage ceremony involved the signing a marriage contract between her father and Abdulrahman. The second part of the marriage ceremony took place in April 2017, when she was forced to move into Abdulrahman’s home upon having completed high school. When she refused to consummate the marriage, Abdulrahman invited two of his brothers and a male cousin to help him rape her. Sudanese law allows children over the age of 10 to marry.
On 2 May 2017, the three men held Noura Hussein down while Abdulrahman raped her. The next morning he tried to rape her again but she managed to escape to the kitchen where she grabbed a knife. In the ensuing scuffle, Abdulrahman sustained fatal knife wounds.
Noura then fled to her family home, but her father handed her over to the police, who opened a case against her. A medical examination report from the fight with Abdulrahman indicated she had sustained injuries including a bite and scratches.
At her trial in July 2017, the judge applied an outdated law which did not recognize marital rape. Noura Hussein was charged under the Criminal Act (1991) and found guilty of intentional murder on 29 April 2018 at the Central Criminal Court of Omdurman.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. As of today, 106 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and more than two-thirds of the world’s countries are abolitionist in law or practice.