Death sentence for raped teen in Sudan named world's worst case for women's rights

Isabelle Gerretsen, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Posted at Dec 05 2018 05:30 AM

LONDON - The death sentence for a 19-year-old girl in Sudan who murdered her husband after he tried to rape her was named on Tuesday as the world's worst court ruling for women's rights this year.

Noura Hussein was sentenced to death in May after a Sharia court, which follows Islamic religious laws, found her guilty of premeditated murder for stabbing her husband, whom she was forced to marry.

"This decision sends a very dangerous message to society, and specifically to women who suffer sexual violence," said Blakeley Decktor, a lawyer at women's rights organization Women's Link, which gives out the awards.

"The court clearly demonstrates a failure of understanding the context where Noura defended herself and the violence she suffered," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Hussein said her husband and 3 of his male relatives raped her 6 days after their wedding ceremony because she refused to have sex with him. Marital rape is not a crime in the predominantly Muslim African nation.

After international outcry, the appeal court in Khartoum charged Hussein with manslaughter and overturned the death sentence in June.

The Gender Justice Uncovered Awards, in its tenth year, recognizes decisions that affect the rights of women and girls around the world, in both good and bad ways. A jury of 3 experts from Spain, Kenya, and Argentina picked the winners.

Spain was awarded second place for a ruling that cleared 5 men of the gang rape of a teenager at the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplon, handing out sentences for the lesser charge of sexual abuse.

El Salvador was also recognized for sentencing a rape victim who miscarried to 30 years in prison for aggravated homicide and Mexico for a ruling that a women who wanted her child's father to pay child support had upset his current wife.