A teenager in Sudan who was given the death penalty for killing her husband, who she says raped her, has had the sentence reduced to five years on appeal, her lawyer said on Tuesday.
The court in Khartoum commuted Noura Hussein’s death penalty to five years as well as ordered her to pay blood money to the husband’s family, defense lawyer Abdullah Ibrahim told dpa.
According to human rights group Amnesty International, Hussein was forced against her will into marriage at the age of 16.
After the marriage, she was raped by her husband while three of his male relatives held her down. When he tried to rape her again, Hussein allegedly stabbed him in self-defense.
Now 19, she was sentenced to death by a court earlier this year in predominantly Muslim Sudan, where marital rape is not a crime.
“While the quashing of this death sentence is hugely welcome news, it must now lead to a legal review to ensure that Noura Hussein is the last person to go through this ordeal,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director in a statement.
“Noura Hussein was the victim of a brutal attack by her husband and five years’ imprisonment for acting in self-defense is a disproportionate punishment.”
There had been huge international pressure on Sudan to throw out Hussein’s sentence, with the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, U.N. Women and UNFPA all voicing their concern.
Celebrities such as British supermodel Naomi Campbell also got behind the cause under the hashtag #JusticeForNoura.
“The appeals court has cancelled her execution and sentenced her to five years in jail,” the lawyer told AFP news agency. “The jail term is effective from the time she was arrested.”
Hussein has been held in a women’s prison since May 2017.
📢Breaking📢 Sudan has repealed the death penalty for 19-year-old Noura Hussein, who was sentenced for killing her husband, after he tried to rape her. Thank you to over 400,000 of you who demanded #JusticeForNoura & helped make this happen! pic.twitter.com/euzWQ4LuUX
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) June 26, 2018
“Like Noura, who was only a child when she got married, there are many child marriages and forced marriages in Sudan. The law doesn’t see that as illegal and neither does it consider marital rape so,” Amal Habani, a Sudanese journalist and women’s rights activist, told Al Jazeera last month.
“Noura faced a lot of violence from her family to marry a man she rejected from the start. Then, she was beaten into submission by his family to consummate the marriage.
“Noura was a victim before she became a criminal. She shouldn’t have been handed down a death penalty.”