Islam is often blamed for violence towards subdued women. The subject of Noura Hussein, who is sentenced to death, demo otherwise, says social advocate and novelist Yassmin Abdel-Magied
Violence against women does not discriminate. One in three women in all regions of the world event physical or sexual violence in their lives, regardless of race, age or income. Intimate partner violence is the most common form, with physical violence occurring to as numerous as two out of three women who have ever been in an intimate partnership.
This is not news, and hitherto, significant differences in how this violence is discussed is stark, depending on where and by whom it has been perpetrated. When the violence occurs in majority Muslim commonwealths, pundits are quick to blame Islam itself, instead of noticing the army of Muslim women who are fighting for their rights within the faith, and representing wives- and themselves- at all costs.
Noura Hussein, a young lady from Sudan, affords an helpful and urgent example. At persons under the age of 16, Noura was forced into a matrimony by her leader. She rejected and escaped from her family home near Khartoum to stay with her aunt in Sennar, around 250 miles away. She lived there for three years, determined to finish her education, when she received parole that the bridal proposes had been cancelled, and she was welcome to come home.
On her return, it became apparent that “shes had” been tricked. The wedding ceremony was underway, and Noura was duly “given” to the groom. Distraught, the 19 -year-old refused to consummate the union for a number of days. Within the week, her husband’s tactics became increasingly vigorous. Noura’s husband abused her, with the help of relatives who pinned her down during the act.
When the spouse returned the next day to repeat the misdemeanour, Noura retaliated. She stabbed her husband a number of durations, ultimately killing her rapist. She thereafter returned to her family, who were allegedly then disinherited her and turned her over to the police.
Over a year later, on 29 April, 2018, Noura was convicted of slaughter. On 10 May, she was sentenced to death. His family was offered the choice of either accepting money seeks compensation for the misdemeanour, or execution. They choice the latter. Now the family and community have 15 daytimes to appeal the sentence. They are hoping to overrule the decision to execute Noura for protecting herself against physical and sexual violence, and navigating an hopeless situation that no young woman should ever face.
Noura’s story is perhaps not extraordinary in a macrocosm where intimate partner violence is abounding. However, there is something about Noura’s case that is indicative of a wider truth. The majority of people involved in raising awareness about this young woman’s case are other Sudanese Muslim women. The solicitors working on the client in Washington DC are members of the Sudanese diaspora, and parole of such cases contacted me through another Sudanese writer’s Instagram and blogposts. The majority of beings fighting for Noura are women, Muslim women.
This reality flies in the face of those who claim that Muslim women are oppressed, submissive or believe in a religion that takes away their rights. It too stands in complete opposition to men who try to use a warped form of sharia to justify any part of such a situation- the forced marriage, the assault, the sentencing. The girls indicating on Noura’s behalf point to both principle and theology: to be marriage without approval is forbidden in Islam. Child marriage is still rehearsed, although women continue to fight the laws and institutions that allow it.
However, as happens so often in cases like this, the narrative becomes an opportunity for the transmit of grudges and prejudices about Islam, through the argument of advocating for women’s rights. Islam is murderous, parties will say, because of how they consider their women- and look, here is an example that reinforces that disagreement!
Let the women who are advocates for #JusticeForNoura be an example of how that is fundamentally inappropriate. The onu on Muslim ladies is impossibly heavy- to defend themselves against both the ignorance of non-Muslims with an Islamophobic agenda, and the deeply patriarchal standards that exist within readings of sharia around the world. To restate Dr Susan Carland, Muslim women forever face a catch-2 2. However, when the fight absolutely is on, as in the case of Noura, they are the firstly to step up to fight for each other’s rights and protection. Tell me, how is that oppression?
* Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a mechanical engineer, social exponent, and novelist. See her website here