A 19-year-old girl in Sudan who was sentenced to death by a court on Thursday for murdering her husband after he tried to rape her, has called on President Omar Al-Bashir to pardon her.

She claimed she was forced into a child marriage and had acted in self-defence.

Noura Hussein’s father made her contractually marry her cousin when she was 16, but she refused to accept the union and sought refuge with a relative for three years.

She returned to her family home on the outskirts of the capital Khartoum in April after her father said the marriage was cancelled but found that she had been duped and preparations for her wedding ceremony were underway.

After the ceremony, Noura refused to have sex with her husband, but on the sixth day, he raped her as three of his male relatives held her down to restrain her.

The following day, he attempted to rape her again and as she struggled to stop him, she stabbed him, killing him.

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A Sharia court, which follows Islamic religious law, found Hussein guilty of premeditated murder with her lawyers having 15 days to appeal.

“Under Sharia law, the husband’s family can demand either monetary compensation or death.

“They chose death and now the death penalty has been handed down,” said Badr Eldin Salah, an activist from the Afrika Youth Movement who was in the court.

“Noura’s lawyers say they plan to appeal against the decision, but we also need strong international support from organisations such as the African Union, the UN and the European Union to support her.”

Sudan is ranked 165 out of 188 countries on the U.N.’s Gender Inequality Index, which measures how women fare compared to men when it comes to access to health, education, political participation and employment opportunities.

UN Women says violence against women and girls is considered prevalent.

“Noura is a victim, not a criminal, and should be treated as such. In many countries, victims like Noura would be provided services to ensure that they overcome the trauma of their experiences,” said Equality Now’s Global Director Yasmeen Hassan.

“Criminalisation of Noura for defending herself from assault and, in particular a death sentence, would violate her rights under the Sudanese Constitution and international law.”

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