Islam is often blamed for violence towards subjugated girls. The event of Noura Hussein, who is sentenced to death, pictures otherwise, says social advocate and writer Yassmin Abdel-Magied
Violence against ladies does not discriminate. One in three women in all regions of the world event physical or sexual violence in their own 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 striking, depending on where and by whom it has been perpetrated. When the violence occurs in majority Muslim countries, pundits are speedy to blame Islam itself, instead of noticing the army of Muslim women who are fighting for their rights within the faith, and defending women- and themselves- at all costs.
Noura Hussein, a young woman from Sudan, offer an instructive and urgent speciman. At the age of 16, Noura was forced into a union by her leader. She refused and escaped from her family home near Khartoum to stay with her aunt in Sennar, around 250 km away. She lived there for three years, determined to finish her education, when she received statement that the wedding schedules had been cancelled, and she was welcome to come home.
On her return, it became apparent that she 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 wedlock for a number of daytimes. Within the week, her husband’s tactics is becoming vigorous. Noura’s husband raped her, with the aid of relatives who pinned her down during the act.
When the spouse returned the next day to repeat the crime, Noura retaliated. She stabbed her husband a number of times, 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 murder. On 10 May, she was sentenced to death. His family was offered the choice of either consenting money seeks compensation for the crime, or executing. They elected the latter. Now the family and community have 15 daylights to appeal the sentence. They are hoping to invalidate 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 tale is perhaps not unique in a macrocosm where intimate partner violence is rife. Nonetheless, “theres 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 maidens. The solicitors “workin on” the speciman in Washington DC are members of the Sudanese diaspora, and message of such cases contacted me through another Sudanese writer’s Instagram and blogposts. The majority of people fighting for Noura are women, Muslim women.
This reality flies in the face of those who claim that Muslim ladies are crushed, subservient or believe in a religion that takes away their rights. It likewise stands in complete opposition to men who try to use a warped version of sharia to justify any part of such a situation- the forced marriage, the crime, the sentencing. The wives indicating on Noura’s behalf point to both rule and theology: to be united without authorization is forbidden in Islam. Child marriage is still practised, although women continue to fight the laws and traditions that allow it.
However, as happens so often in cases like this, the story becomes an opportunity for the transmit of grievances and racisms about Islam, through the polemic of preaching for women’s rights. Islam is murderous, beings will say, because of how they treat their women- and ogle, here is an example that reinforces that argument!
Let the women who are advocates for #JusticeForNoura be an example of how that is fundamentally mistaken. The encumbrance on Muslim maidens is impossibly heavy- to defend themselves against both the stupidity of non-Muslims with an Islamophobic agenda, and the deeply patriarchal criteria that exist within interpretings of sharia around the world. To restate Dr Susan Carland, Muslim women forever face a catch-2 2. However, when the fight genuinely is on, as in the case of Noura, they are the first to step up to fight for each other’s rights and protection. Tell me, how is that oppression?
* Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a mechanical designer, social counselor, and novelist. See her website here