Islam is often blamed for violence towards subdued wives. The occurrence of Noura Hussein, who is sentenced to death, demonstrates otherwise, says social advocate and columnist Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Violence against maidens does not discriminate. One in three women across the globe suffer physical or forms of sexual violence in “peoples 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 hitherto, significant differences in how this violence is discussed is stark, depending on where and by whom it has been perpetrated. When the brutality occurs in majority Muslim countries, scholars are quick to blame Islam itself, instead of noticing the army of Muslim women who are fighting for their rights within the faith, and protecting dames- and themselves- at all costs.

Noura Hussein, a young lady from Sudan, affords an instructive and urgent instance. At the age of 16, Noura was forced into a wedlock by her father-god. She refused and escaped from her family home near Khartoum to stay with her aunt in Sennar, around 250 kilometers away. She lived there for three years, determined to finish her education, when she received term that the marry projects 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 wedding for a number of dates. 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 partner returned the next day to repeat the crime, Noura retaliated. She stabbed her husband a number of durations, ultimately killing her rapist. She thereafter returned to her family, who reportedly then disavowed her and turned her over to the police.

Over a year later, on 29 April, 2018, Noura was convicted of assassination. On 10 May, she was sentenced to death. His family was offered the choice of either abiding money seeks compensation for the crime, or executing. They picked the latter. Now the family and community have 15 days to appeal the sentence. They are hoping to invalidate the decision to execute Noura for representing herself against physical and sexual violence, and steering an hopeless situation that no young woman should ever face.

Noura’s tale is perhaps not peculiar in a nature 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 wives. The lawyers working on the subject in Washington DC are members of the Sudanese diaspora, and term of the case 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 girls are persecuted, submissive or believe in a religion that takes away their rights. It also stands in complete opposition to men who try to use a warped version of sharia to justify any part of such different situations- the forced marriage, the abuse, the sentencing. The ladies reasoning on Noura’s behalf point to both statute and theology: to be united without authorization is forbidden in Islam. Child marriage is still practiced, although women continue to fight the laws and traditions that allow it.

However, as happens so often in cases like this, the tale becomes an opportunity for the send of grudges and prejudices about Islam, through the debate of preaching for women’s rights. Islam is murderous, people will say, because of how they treat their women- and appear, here is an example that reinforces that disagreement!

Let the women who are advocates for #JusticeForNoura set an example of how that is fundamentally inappropriate. The load on Muslim ladies is impossibly heavy- to defend themselves against both the knowledge of non-Muslims with an Islamophobic agenda, and the deeply patriarchal norms that exist within renderings of sharia around the world. To paraphrase Dr Susan Carland, Muslim women forever face a catch-2 2. However, when the fight truly 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 campaigner, and scribe. Visit her website here


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