The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) echoes the sentiments of many in the global community in condemning forced marriage and Violence Against Women (VAW) and girls.
CSVR also rejects the verdict given to Sudanese teenager Noura Hussein to be executed by hanging for killing her husband.
The 19-year-old victim of a forced marriage was found guilty of premeditated murder for stabbing her husband to death during a rape attempt. According to media reports, Hussein acted in self-defence and was previously raped by her 'husband' as his relatives held her down.
Hussein should not be treated as a criminal. She is a victim and ought to be treated as such. What she needs at this point are support services to help her deal with the trauma of the experiences she has gone through," said CSVR Gender Specialist, Nonhlanhla Sibanda-Moyo.
CSVR research on international cases of women who have been given clemency for killings related to domestic violence concluded that such killings need to be examined in light of the historical context of gender-based violence in each case. The organisation called for the reform of legal defences and sentencing guidelines.
Although child marriages are not uncommon in Africa due to unjust cultural practices, Noura's case reminds us that now is the time to uproot inequality and VAW," said Sibanda-Moyo.
According a report titled Ending child marriage in Africa by Girls Not Brides, Africa is home to 15 of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Globally, 720 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday.
CSVR believes there needs to be drastic action against the injustice of child marriages and the sexual abuse that comes with it. The perpetuation of child marriages is likely to result in more deaths and more trauma in Africa and beyond," she said.
CSVR is calling for the following actions to be taken:
- The ruling to be overturned, and for all criminal charges against Hussein to be dropped;
- The Sudanese government to review "penal codes" on rape and to create laws to prevent sexual violence against women and children in Sudan;
- The African Union to exercise their influence on the Sudanese government in light of the various commitments to women's rights, safety and security by African governments, including the African Charter;
- As this year marks the 15th Anniversary of the African Union's Protocol to the African charter on human and Peoples' rights on the rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), which guarantees the rights and equality of women on the continent and complements the global women, peace and security agenda, CSVR calls upon the Sudanese government – which has already signed the instrument – to ratify it as a matter of urgency.
We need to take note of and consider the trauma of being exposed to such gruesome abuse. Our past research shows that many times when victims act, it is when society has long ignored their pain and suffering. Society tends to only respond post the killing, which is problematic," said CSVR Executive Director, Nomfundo Mogapi.
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CSVR is a multi-disciplinary institute that seeks to understand and prevent violence, heal its effects and build sustainable peace at the community, national and regional levels.