A 19-year-old Sudanese woman was sentenced to death for having beaten the man she had to marry, and she raped her when his relatives held her down.
The case of Noura Hussein has been given a shine to the problems of forced marriage and rape in marriage in Sudan, where the legal age of marriage is only 10 years and marital rape is legal.
Hussein's supporters filled the courtroom in Omdurman, Sudan, and poured into the hall outside as a judge announced on Thursday the death sentence. Her husband's family refused an option to pardon her and denied financial compensation, demanding that she be executed instead.
Hussein's Legal Department has 15 days to appeal.
"She is still in complete shock after her condemnation today." Adil Mohamed Al-Imam, one of Hussein's lawyers, told CNN. Al-Imam donated his services after Hussein's original lawyer withdrew from the case. He added that Hussein was abandoned not only by the law but also by her family.
The shocking details of her case have set Social Media and WhatsApp on fire in Sudan. And in recent days, it has attracted international attention with hashtags #JusticeforNoura and #SaveNoura. Thousands of people have shared a change.org petition.
Forced to marry at age 1
After Hussein refused to do the marriage, her husband's relatives held her while he raped her. "His brother and two cousins tried to argue with her when she refused, she was beaten and ordered into the room, one holding her chest and head, the others holding her legs," said Al-Imam CNN.
A day later, her husband tried to rape her again and she stabbed him to death. When she went to her parents for support, they took her to the police.
Al-Imam said the case challenged social expectations in Sudan that women should submit to their husbands.
Sudan Researcher of Amnesty International, Ahmed Elzobier It was the first time such a case attracted attention. "Marriage rape often happens in Sudan and people do not talk about it," he said. Hussein's case changed that, he said.
Shahd Hamza, 20, was among those who supported Hussein in court after hearing about her case in a group chat about WhatsApp. She said that while the rape and harassment of women in Sudan had long been an issue, a case like Hussein's had never been viral.
"People are shying away from this conversation in Sudan, it's a taboo," she said. "I hope people will feel well now to talk about it with their parents and grandparents."