(SKY NEWS) – There are only two pictures of Noura Hussein in the public domain – but each one embodies a set of deeply disturbing facts.
The first photograph of the 19-year old was taken in May, three days before the young Sudanese woman was sentenced to death by hanging in a court in Khartoum.
You can see Ms Hussein standing at a wooden ledge in Dar al-Ta’bat Aka prison – a facility that has doubled as her home for the past 12 months. Her face is hidden behind a corrugated metal grill but you can make out part of her left eye while one hand rests on her chin.
“What happened to Noura happens to every girl and every woman in Sudan,” said Nahid Jabralla, the head of a Sudanese women and children’s rights group called SEEMA. “It happens every single day.”
When Noura was 15, her father signed a contract, marrying her off to a member of a well-to-do family called the Hammads.
But the schoolgirl rejected the match and ran away from home.
Human rights activists told Sky News that her father was financially indebted to the Hammad family and as result, came under increasing pressure to organise the ceremony.
Noura Hussein was lured back to the family home under the pretence that she was no longer expected to marry Abudulrhmam Mohammed Hammad. But it was a trick and she was compelled to wed several weeks later.
In the second photograph, the pain and hurt on Noura’s face is self-evident as she is shown standing next to her husband on her wedding day.
Noura refused to consummate the relationship and five days after the ceremony, Hammad asked his brother, uncle and cousins to come to their flat. His relatives then held her down while he raped her.
The next day Abudulrhmam Mohammed Hammad tried again. The pair fought before the 19-year-old woman stabbed him to death with a knife.
In an interview given to an Arabic-language website, Noura’s mother Zeinab Ahmed said her daughter wanted to commit suicide after her husband tried to sleep with her again.
“She told me in prison that she hated herself after what happened. She brought a knife and hid it under the pillow in order to kill herself. When he tried to sleep with her she took the knife to kill herself but the fight started and she stabbed him by mistake.
“She didn’t intend to kill her husband,” insisted her mother, adding that she did not know anything about the incident at the time because she was giving birth.
Nahid Jabralla and her team from SEEMA heard only about Noura’s case by chance. A prison visitor picked up the story and passed it on – but by this stage, the trial was almost over.
Ms Jabralla and her colleagues have appealed Noura’s death sentence on the basis that Hammad’s death was caused by self-defence and they currently await the result from the Sudanese court.
However, the head of SEEMA says that even if the 19-year-old is released, her prospects are poor.
“Her family have disowned her. In fact, they moved to a different part of Sudan and she could be (subject to) revenge from the deceased family and remember, it is not like she can travel and leave the country.”
Still, this small NGO have done far more than simply providing a 19-year-old woman with a court-room defence. They have also put legal and traditional practices in Sudan in the spotlight by running an international campaign in Noura Hussein’s name.