World News

Sudan Won’t Execute Woman Who Killed Husband After Reported Rape, Lawyer Says

Posted June 27, 2018 1:54 p.m. EDT

An appeals court in Sudan has overturned the death sentence of a 19-year-old woman who killed her husband in what she said was self-defense because he tried to rape her, one of her lawyers has said, in a case that has drawn international outrage.

The woman, Noura Hussein, had her sentence reduced Tuesday to five years in jail for stabbing and killing her husband, Abdulrahman Mohamed Hammad, according to the lawyer, Ahmed Sibair. The court also ordered Hussein’s family to pay 337,000 Sudanese pounds ($18,600) in “blood money” to the man’s family.

Hussein’s legal team said it planned to appeal the jail term and fine.

Last month, a court sentenced Hussein to death by hanging after she was found guilty of killing her husband. The conviction caused outrage among rights groups, which said the law penalized victims of forced marriage and did not recognize marital rape as a crime.

Hussein was forced to marry Hammad when she was 16, and she was raped after refusing to have sex with him after a ceremony that involved the signing of a marriage contract by her father and Hammad, the lawyer said by telephone.

It was in May 2017, rights groups say, that Hammad raped his wife as three members of his family held her down. When he tried to rape her the following morning, she grabbed a knife and fatally stabbed him in a scuffle, according to Amnesty International. After the killing, she fled to her family home, and her father handed her over to the police.

An online petition that called for Hussein’s release has garnered 1.4 million signatures, and the #JusticeForNoura campaign has drawn support on social media worldwide.

“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,” Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for East Africa, said of the reduced sentence.

In Sudan, 1 in 3 girls marries before the age of 18, according to figures published by UNICEF last year. The country’s Personal Status Law of Muslims allows girls as young as 10 to be married if their guardians obtain permission from a judge. Under a law introduced in 1991, marital rape is not considered rape and is therefore 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,” Magango said.