September 4, 2018
Jewish World Watch received upsetting news last week that Noura Hussein is in trouble once again. Her execution is not off the table, after all.
Noura, a 19-year old Sudanese girl, was sentenced to death in May for fatally stabbing her 35-year old husband, Abdel Rahman Mohamed Hammad, in self-defense. She had been forced to marry him at the age of 15, and when she refused to consummate the marriage, he violently raped her while three of his male family members held her down. The case shined a spotlight on the extreme gender-inequality in Sudan’s legal system, where the legal marrying age is 10, and forced marriage and marital rape are both legal.
JWW and our many constituents joined in the international outcry to save Noura’s life, setting the internet both inside and outside Sudan ablaze with demands for clemency. As a result, a Sudanese appeals court quashed the death sentence verdict, instead reducing Noura’s crime to manslaughter and giving her a five-year prison sentence, along with a fine for 337,500 Sudanese SDG (just under $19,000).
Jewish World Watch was instrumental in helping to save Noura from execution, utilizing diplomatic channels in partnership with strong advocacy from Congresswoman Karen Bass. When the sentence was changed, we celebrated this small but powerful victory for women’s rights and the prevention of gender-based violence — a major weapon of war in all of the genocide and mass atrocity situations we monitor.
In recent weeks, Noura began to study law while serving her time at Omdurman Prison for women. She even received a scholarship to attend the Open University of Sudan upon her release. Other prisoners rallied around her, and efforts to change Sudan’s discriminatory laws seemed to be underway.
However, much animus continued to surround the case. Noura’s family was forced to flee Khartoum for fear of reprisals. Her defense team, led by Adil Mohamed Al-Iman, faced silencing and repeated threats. Hammad’s family rejected the fine ordered by the appeals court and threatened publicly to kill a member of her family to avenge their son if the court maintains its refusal to hang Noura. “Hussein was only a woman who had killed a man and women were not equal to men,” Hammad’s father told the daily al-Tayyar newspaper, when expressing that even her death would not be enough to balance the scales.
And, most alarmingly, The Guardian newspaper is reporting that the state prosecutor of Sudan is asking the constitutional court to overturn the latest ruling and to reinstate the death penalty.