From the time we are infants, our parents and guardians lead the way. They teach us how to navigate the rocky road that is life. From them, we learn the difference between right and wrong while they hand us the rubric of the on-going exam that is life.
But, what happens when those supposed to protect you treat you as a commodity and rob you of your childhood?
The international community came together in defence of a young Sudanese teen, Noura Hussein (19) who was sentenced to death for killing her husband after he raped her. Hussein was forced into her marriage at the age of 16, something not particularly new to her country as reported by UNICEF.
The law in Sudan condones such marriages under ‘The Personal Status Law of Muslims of 1991′. The law allows the marriage of girls as soon as they hit puberty. In a bizarre twist, the law also condones the marriage of a 10-year-old to its guardian given permission by a judge.
The European Parliament condemned this sentence and called on the Sudanese authorities to reconsider by looking at all sides of the story; considering Hussein was acting in self-defence.
It’s safe to say Hussein stood no chance in the matter, the African country’s laws leave girls like her in danger of being seen and treated as a commodity and not the children they are. According to the Sudan Tribune, Hussein was held down by three family members of the husband while he raped her. While trying to force himself on her a second time, the teen stabbed him to death.
According to Amnesty International which had called on people around the world to raise their voices in favour of Noura since her sentencing in May; the Sudanese court of appeal, repealed the death penalty against Noura Hussein. Instead, she will serve five years in prison from the date of her arrest and is required to pay of 337,500 Sudanese pounds (around US$8,400).
”While the quashing of this death sentence is hugely welcome news, it must now lead to a legal review to ensure that Noura Hussein is the last person to go through this ordeal”- Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes
We couldn’t agree more.
Noura Hussein gives a glimpse of how dark a sentence these child marriages are in Africa. This tragic story highlights a well-known secret on our continent. UNICEF reports that Africa has over 70% of the world’s population of girls married under the age of 18. This labels Africa with the highest incident reports of Child marriages.
Zimbabwe plays a part in the problem given UNICEF statistics that state; one in three girls in Zimbabwe is married before their 18th birthday. We may be familiar with these causes, which include poverty and religion, amongst other variables.
Zimbabwe joined the effort to eradicate child marriages in 2014 when two former child brides Ruvimbo Tsopodzi and Loveness Mudzuru filed an application with the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe to declare the Marriage Act and Customary Marriage Act unconstitutional, the application only became a reality in 2016. Not too long after was the launch of the African Union’s Campaign to end child marriage.
Zimbabwe, unlike its African counterpart, Sudan has started to recognize its faults on the issue legislatively. This is not to say all is well; there is still a long way to go to address the matter of child brides.
While no one is saying murder is good in any way it is important to consider the corners these child brides are painted into by the parents, guardians and lawmakers. The true victims of these marriages are the children who are forced into adult situations. As a result, they end up making horrific decisions to defend themselves.’ In some rural areas in Zimbabwe, this is still the natural order of life. The children involved aren’t even aware of their rights.
It is up to us as to spread the word on the matter to help children who are disadvantaged by poverty and lack of education, after all, there is strength in numbers.