Editor’s Note: CNN is committed to covering gender inequality wherever it occurs in the world. This story is part of As Equals, a year-long series.
Sudanese teenager Noura Hussein, who is on death row for killing her 35-year-old husband, in a case that has sparked international outrage, has spoken out for the first time about her forced marriage, and the rape and struggle that happened when she stabbed him.
CNN obtained a first-hand account from the 19-year-old, who is currently awaiting retrial in an Omdurman prison cell after appealing her death sentence.
The teenager’s story has put a spotlight on forced marriage and marital rape in Sudan, where the legal age to enter into marriage is 10 and marital rape is not a crime.
Noura’s family made her get married at 15, but allowed her to finish school. Three years later, after a public marriage ceremony, her husband tried to consummate the marriage. After refusing to have sex with him on their “honeymoon,” she says he raped her as members of his family held her down. A day later her husband tried to rape her again, and she stabbed him to death. When she went to her parents for support, they turned her over to the police.
The Sudanese government has not responded to CNN’s requests for comment on the case.
Noura’s first-hand account was obtained by CNN. It has been translated, and lightly edited for clarity and length.
Noura Hussein: He told my parents that he wanted to marry me when I was in the 8th grade.
They fooled me after I sat the secondary school exams at the end of that year.
And the first time I even saw him was a week after he proposed the marriage to my uncle.
And from the first time they told me I refused. I told them I don’t want to marry, I want to study.
I spoke to him directly and said, “I don’t want to marry you.”
I fled to Sinnar to my aunt’s house, but two days later they brought me back and the religious ceremony took place, two weeks after he first proposed, in our house.
Afterwards I had no communication with him. If he visited the house I left. I told him, I don’t want you.
The wedding ceremony was three years later after I sat my school leaver exam. They did all the usual rituals for the wedding, his family are well off, but in all that time I didn’t take anything from him – not a single penny.
I was overwhelmed with anger, I didn’t want this man.
I sat in the hairdressers contemplating suicide.
I cried sitting next to him. In the car he kept coming closer to me and I kept moving away. We arrived at the honeymoon flat, I locked myself inside one of the rooms and lay down fully clothed.
This went on – I refused to eat, I refused to leave my room. On the third day he told me it’s time you open the door so I don’t break in. I refused but while he slept I crept out and found the door to the flat was locked.
On the ninth day his relatives came, his uncle told me to go to the bedroom. I said no so he dragged me by my arm into the bedroom and his cousin slapped me. All of them tore at my clothing. His uncle held me down by my legs and each of the other two held down my arms. He stripped and had me while I wept and screamed. Finally, they left the room. I was bleeding, I slept naked.
The next day he grabbed me, threw me on the bed and tried to climb on top of me. I was fighting back and my hand found a knife under the pillow. We began grappling over the knife. He cut my hand and bit down on my shoulder.
I ran to my parent’s house. I had no idea how I got there. I was still carrying the knife.
I was hoping to finish studying law and then marry, my dream is to be a judge.
Read more on Hussein’s case and forced marriage in Sudan.
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