A court battle in Omdurman, Sudan, has drawn international attention and inspired a silent protest in Sydney last Saturday, organised by Liverpool resident YaqeenIdris.
Yaqeen, of Sudanese heritage, said the protest at Haymarket also addressed wider problems of human rights, women’s rights and gaps in Sudan’s justice system.
According to reports, last Thursday Noura Hussein Hammad, 19, was sentenced to death after being found guilty of premeditated murder.
Protesters believe Noura was forced into a marriage at 16 and when her husband tried to rape her a second time, in 2017, she stabbed him in self-defence.
“Noura’s lawyers aren’t talking to media, I believe. People are afraid to speak up. I’ve been working with an activist who’s in direct contact with her lawyers,” Yaqeen said.
“I’ve been told the first time Noura was raped by her husband his relatives helped force her to the ground. This can’t be OK! In Australia rape victims have the right to be medically tested but in Sudan women don’t have the same rights. Underage marriage and marital rape aren’t considered crimes.”
Yaqeen is the same age as Noura and has family and loved ones in Sudan.
“I decided to get involved earlier this month and I’ve been in contact with an activist ever since. We came up with the hashtag together #JusticeForNoura. Our main goal is to get human-rights organisations involved to get this young woman out of her situation. In 2012 a woman in Sudan was prosecuted for wearing pants and got public punishment. But when the UN got involved things changed.”
She hopes the protests across Australia, Canada, Washington and London will help.
Noura’s lawyers have 15 days to appeal.
“It’s really upsetting that she’ll be hung. The trial hearing has sent shockwaves throughout our community and we can’t do anything but pray for her and ask God for justice.”
AmnestyInternational released a statement: “Noura Hussein’s life-long wish was to be a teacher but she was forced to marry an abusive man who raped and brutalised her. Now she’s been slapped with a death sentence by a court which refused to recognise rape within marriage. She’s a victim. Her sentence is intolerably cruel,” Amnesty’s Seif Magango said.
“The death penalty is cruel, inhuman and degrading and to apply it to a rape victim is a failure of Sudanese authorities to acknowledge the violence she endured. They must quash this grossly unfair sentence and ensure she gets a fair retrial that considers her mitigating circumstances.”
- Amnesty International: amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/urgent-save-noura-from-execution.