Sudanese teen convicted over killing husband appeals death sentence

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Case of Noura Hussein, who says she killed her spouse as he tried to rape her, may not see a verdict for months

Women are vulnerable to marital rape and underage marriage under Sudanese law (Reuters)
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Thursday 24 May 2018 15:06 UTC
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Sudanese 19-year-old Noura Hussein, who was convicted for murdering her husband as he allegedly tried to rape her, appealed her death sentence on Thursday.

"Today, we filed an appeal in the appeals court against the lower court's ruling," al-Fateh Hussein, a lawyer in Hussein's defence team, said.

"It might be months before the appeals court delivers its ruling."

'It might be months before the appeals court delivers its ruling'

- Al-Fateh Hussein, defence lawyer

Hussein, who was forced to marry by her father at the age of 16, has garnered international attention after being found guilty of “intentional murder” and sentenced to death.

The ruling has been condemned by the United Nations, international human rights groups and activists within Sudan.

"We have received information that Hussein's forced marriage, rape, and other forms of gender-based violence against her were not taken into account by the court as evidence to mitigate the sentence," UN rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said last week.

In Sudan, the “Justice for Noura” campaign is gathering steam, with many Sudanese promoting her cause on social media.

Last week, MEE reported that Hussein’s case has prompted Sudanese women’s groups to highlight similar cases in an attempt to draw attention to the country’s personal status law, which they say leaves women and girls vulnerable to child marriage and marital rape.

"I accept this verdict proudly and bravely," Hussein said ahead of her appeal in a message sent from jail.

"If this is the justice of the human being, I prefer to die than to continue in such unfair life."

“Thanks for those who stood against oppression of the women that were forced into marriage," she added.

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Where marital rape is legal: Sudanese teen's death sentence fuels wider fight

Under Sudanese law children as young as 10 – girls and boys – can be married with permission from a judge. It is the lowest legal marital age in Africa.

Though the legal age of consent for sex is 18, the Sudanese penal code exempts spouses from being charged with sex with a minor when married.

In Sudan, there is no law criminalising marital rape.