A 19-year-old girl in Sudan was sentenced to death by a Sharia court on Thursday for murdering her husband after he tried to rape her.
Following the sentencing, rights campaigners have called on the president to pardon her as she was forced into a child marriage, and had acted in self-defence. Her lawyers have 15 days to appeal.
Noura Hussein says her father made her contractually marry her cousin when she was 16, but she refused to accept the union and sought refuge with a relative for three years.
She returned to her family home on the outskirts of the capital Khartoum in April this year after her father said the marriage was cancelled, but found that she had been duped and preparations for her wedding ceremony were under way.
Hussein said that she refused to have sex with her husband after the ceremony, but he raped her on the sixth day as three of his male relatives held her down.
The following day, he attempted to rape her again and in the ensuing struggle, she stabbed him, killing him.
A Sharia court found Hussein guilty of premeditated murder last month and on Thursday officially sentenced her to death by hanging.
“Under Sharia law, the husband’s family can demand either monetary compensation or death. They chose death and now the death penalty has been handed down,” said Badr Eldin Salah, an activist from the Afrika Youth Movement who was in the court.
“Noura’s lawyers say they plan to appeal against the decision, but we also need strong international support from organisations such as the African Union, the United Nations and the European Union to support her.”
Sudan is ranked 165 out of 188 countries on the U.N.’s Gender Inequality Index, and Marital rape and child marriage are not considered crimes in the predominately Muslim African nation.
The UN says one in three Sudanese women are married before the age of 18.
Noura’s case has drawn a massive reaction on social media, with many calling for her to be pardoned.