Islam is often blamed for violence towards subdued girls. The case of Noura Hussein, who is sentenced to death, proves otherwise, says social advocate and writer Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Violence against girls does not discriminate. One in three women in all regions of the world knowledge physical or forms of 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 many as two out of three women who have ever been in an insinuate partnership.

This is not news, and yet, 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, scholars 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 ladies- and themselves- at all costs.

Noura Hussein, a young lady from Sudan, adds an helpful and urgent lesson. At the age of 16, Noura was forced into a marriage by her father-god. 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 text that the wed strategy 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 matrimony for a number of epoches. Within the week, her husband’s tactics became increasingly vigorous. Noura’s partner crimes 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 jabbed her husband a number of times, ultimately killing her rapist. She thereafter returned to her family, who were allegedly then disowned her and turned her over to the police.

Over a year later, on 29 April, 2018, Noura was imprisoned of murder. On 10 May, she was sentenced to death. His family was offered the choice of either accepting money compensation for the crime, or executing. They selected the latter. Now the family and community have 15 daylights to appeal the convict. They are hoping to overturn the decision to execute Noura for defending herself against physical and sexual violence, and steering an impossible situation that no young woman should ever face.

Noura’s narration is perhaps not uncommon in a world-wide where intimate partner violence is rife. Nonetheless, 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 females. The advocates working on the event in Washington DC are members of the Sudanese diaspora, and term 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 females are subdued, submissive or believes in a religion that takes away their rights. It likewise stands in terminated opposition to men who try to use a warped version of sharia to justify any part of such a situation- the forced marriage, the assault, the sentencing. The ladies arguing on Noura’s behalf point to both rule and theology: to be united without permission is forbidden in Islam. Child marriage is still practised, although women continue to fight the laws and institutions that allow it.

However, as happens so often in cases like this, the narration becomes an opportunity for the transmit of grudges and prejudices about Islam, through the argument of preaching for women’s rights. Islam is brutal, people will say, because of how they treat their women- and gaze, here is an example that reinforces that arguing!

Let the women who are advocates for #JusticeForNoura be an example of how that is fundamentally inappropriate. The encumbrance on Muslim wives 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 interpretings of sharia around the world. To paraphrase Dr Susan Carland, Muslim women forever face a catch-2 2. However, when the fight genuinely is on, such 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 operator, social counsel, and columnist. Visit her website here


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