Outrage at Sudan death sentence for girl allegedly raped

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The sentencing of a teenage Sudanese girl to death for killing her husband has sparked online outrage, as Amnesty International said she was defending herself against being raped.

Noura Hussein Hammad, 19, was handed a death sentence by a court on Thursday for the “intentional murder” of the man her father forced her to marry.

“Noura is a victim and not a killer. Noura has been raped by her husband,” Sudanese novelist Hamour Zyada wrote on Facebook on Saturday as part of a campaign tagged #justicefornoura.

“We have to come together to rescue Noura,” Zyada added — a sentiment echoed by others.

“We all have to unite for rescuing Noura and to fight against marital rape,” wrote prominent women’s rights activist Amal Habbani on Facebook.

Several activists changed their profile pictures on Twitter and Facebook to a painting depicting a white veil and three clenched female fists, to show solidarity with Hammad.

“All Sudanese people, activists and women’s organisations must unite to fight for justice for Noura,” tweeted political activist Amani Ahmed.

Hammad was married against her wish to Abdulrahman Hammad at the age of 16, with the first ceremony involving the signing of a marriage contract between her father and her husband, Amnesty International said in a statement on Thursday.

In April 2017 the second part of the marriage took place when she was forced to move to her husband’s home after completing high school.

When Hammad refused to consummate the marriage, her husband invited two of his brothers and a male cousin to help him rape her, the rights group alleged.

“On 2 May 2017, the three men held Noura Hussein down while Abdulrahman raped her,” Amnesty International said.

“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.”

Hammad fled to her family home after the incident but her father handed her to the police, Amnesty said.

During her trial in July 2017, the court found her guilty of “intentional murder” after applying an outdated law that does not recognise marital rape, the rights group added.

“The way her family treated her is something that happens all the time in our community. We have to fight for her,” said political activist Amjad Fareed in a Facebook post on Saturday.

In recent years, women and children’s rights activists in Sudan have campaigned against forced unions and marriage of underage girls, a widespread phenomenon in a country where the law allows children over the age of 10 to marry.