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#JusticeForNoura: Sudanese teenager's parents hoping for miracle to save her from death penalty

The case has spotlighted women's rights in Sudan, where marital rape is legal [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 June, 2018

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The parents of a Sudanese teenager facing death penalty for killing her husband, who she accuses of rape, have spoken for the first time about their daughter's ordeal.
The parents of a Sudanese teenager facing death penalty for killing her husband and alleged rapist, have pleaded for a miracle to save her.

Speaking publicly for the first time after Noura's story gained international attention, the parents of the 19-year-old dismissed claims they had disowned their daughter, who says she stabbed her husband in self defence.

Noura faces execution after a Sudanese court convicted her of premeditated murder. Amnesty International and an online petition have called for her "grossly unfair sentence" to be quashed.

Noura's mother Zainab Ahmed told BBC Arabic her daughter had originally planned to kill herself.

"She hated herself after he raped her," Noura's mother, Zainab Ahmed, told BBC.

"She had got a knife ready to take her own life if he touched her again."

But in the heat of the moment, Noura stabbed her husband in self defence.

According to her parents, Noura was not strongly opposed to the marriage to her 32-year-old cousin Abdulrahman Mohamed Hammad, but, aged 16 at the time, wanted to finish her schooling first.

But family pressure hastened the wedding, and while Noura took part in the initial marriage ceremony, her opposition increased.

"Many young girls in the area were getting pregnant and having illegitimate children," her father said on speeding up the marriage.

Hussein said he didn't want her to suffer a similar fate and end up without a husband.

After running away to her aunt's house to a city 350km away, Noura was persuaded to come home on the condition the marriage was cancelled, but when she arrived back her marriage was completed. She lived at the family home for two years, but after pressure from family elders, she was forced to live with her husband.

On the ninth day, when she refused to consummate the marriage, her husband invited two of his brothers and a male cousin to help him rape her.

When he tried to rape her a second time, she stabbed him to death.

Zainab Ahmed said her daughter was a quiet and intelligent girl.

"She had ambitions," she said. "Noura dreamed of studying law at university and eventually becoming a lecturer."

She said she is hopeful of a last minute miracle for her daughter, and that family elders will intervene and convince Abdulrahman's family to ask the courts to repeal the death penalty.

However Amnesty International said it was an unlikely outcome. "Had they done this during the sentencing they could have requested mitigation. At this stage a family would have no say in a judicial decision," says Dr Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty's director for East Africa.

A joint statement from UN Women, UN Population Fund and UN Office of the Special Advisor on Africa last month called on the government of President Omar al-Bashir to pardon the teenager.

On 25 May, her lawyer filed an appeal against her death sentence - the outcome of which may not be known for months. 

In the meantime, the teenager is being held at the Omdurman Women's Prison. Her incarceration has sparked debate about women's rights in Sudan, where marital rape is legal.

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