The young activist fighting for Sudanese teen on death row

Zaynub Afinnih lives thousands of miles away from Sudan, but the story of a 19-year-old woman who was sentenced to de...

Posted: May 18, 2018 8:04 PM
Updated: May 18, 2018 8:04 PM

Zaynub Afinnih lives thousands of miles away from Sudan, but the story of a 19-year-old woman who was sentenced to death there for killing her rapist inspired her to start a global campaign calling for justice.

"I don't know her ... I've never spoken to her," the 16-year-old activist told CNN from her family's home in Rouen, France. "But she is my sister in humanity. I can't let her die for defending herself against the man who raped her."

Noura Hussein was imprisoned in Omdurman, Sudan, last year after fatally stabbing the man she was forced to marry, who she says raped her as his relatives held her down.

The harrowing details of her case have set social media ablaze and captured international attention with the hashtags #JusticeforNoura and #SaveNoura.

Afinnih first came across Hussein's story on Instagram, and then read more about her in a blog post. She said she was shocked by the story.

"It was just horrific. I couldn't read the story and go back about my normal day," Hussein said. "After that I made the petition. I felt like I had to do something."

From the ground-floor flat she shares with her Nigerian mother, two sisters, and brother, Afinnih decided to create a change.org petition appealing to the Sudanese government to save Hussein's life.

The petition has gone viral, garnering more than 700,000 signatures so far.

After starting the petition from the bunk bed of her bedroom, Afinnih shared it with her followers on Instagram and Twitter, calling on her friends to do the same.

"She's a hero," Afinnih said of Hussein. "She's representing all the women who have been oppressed in their lives."

Hussein's family compelled her to marry at 15 -- one year younger than Afinnih -- but she refused and ran away for three years. Her father forced her to complete the wedding ceremony last April. After refusing to have sex with her husband on their "honeymoon," she says he raped her as his brother and two cousins restrained her.

Calls for mercy mount

Since Hussein was sentenced on May 10, calls for mercy have mounted internationally.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded Sudan stop any attempt to execute Hussein, and urged respect for her claim of self defense against attempted rape.

Saying that Guterres was following the case closely, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told CNN that the UN "calls for halting any steps being taken toward her execution, which, on the basis of the information made available to us, would violate international human rights law and standards, thus constituting an arbitrary execution."

Amnesty International has collected 174,000 letters from people around the world asking for her release -- they've sent 150,000 of those letters to Sudan's Ministry of Justice, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for East Africa Seif Magango told CNN on Thursday.

Amnesty is waiting for a response, he adds.

READ MORE: Lawyer for Sudanese teen who killed her rapist facing intimidation

"What we ask the international community is to stand with us to free Noura," he said. "She doesn't deserve to die for defending herself."

A representative from the US State Department told CNN it "echo(es) the statements of many in the international community and within Sudan, condemning early and forced marriage and violence against women and girls."

"We have raised this case with the government of Sudan, and note that it is still going through a judicial process; we look forward to an appropriate resolution of her case, consistent with Sudan's international human rights obligations."

The Sudanese government has not responded to CNN requests for comment on the case.

Huntsville/Redstone
Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 49°
Muscle Shoals
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 47°
Huntsville/Madison
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 47°
Decatur
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 47°
Fort Payne
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 42°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 490220

Reported Deaths: 9744
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson704661342
Mobile35810721
Madison32203443
Tuscaloosa23961409
Montgomery22417489
Shelby21773211
Baldwin19635272
Lee14883147
Morgan13571248
Etowah13118312
Calhoun13090283
Marshall11212203
Houston10036257
Limestone9321133
Elmore9313179
Cullman8864177
St. Clair8771220
Lauderdale8570210
DeKalb8419173
Talladega7450162
Walker6492249
Jackson6466102
Autauga617285
Blount6072125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5229100
Dale4614106
Russell401431
Franklin397675
Covington3948105
Chilton383196
Escambia376670
Tallapoosa3559139
Clarke342749
Dallas3396140
Chambers3393103
Pike292771
Lawrence281284
Marion280793
Winston245665
Bibb243759
Marengo238554
Geneva238468
Pickens223554
Barbour209550
Hale208464
Fayette199356
Butler195165
Henry182341
Cherokee176338
Monroe165638
Randolph162740
Washington156233
Crenshaw143353
Clay143254
Macon140543
Cleburne136539
Lamar131632
Lowndes130148
Wilcox120825
Bullock116534
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98231
Coosa86823
Greene86732
Choctaw54723
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 768946

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby866001472
Davidson80790841
Knox45241571
Hamilton39979454
Rutherford37906375
Williamson25011202
Sumner21166312
Montgomery17207207
Out of TN1667091
Wilson16194209
Unassigned15662125
Sullivan14169273
Blount13929178
Bradley12734138
Washington12671231
Maury12141159
Sevier11889161
Putnam10537168
Madison10049226
Robertson8886118
Hamblen7958161
Anderson7893155
Greene7258144
Tipton6896101
Coffee6264114
Gibson6168140
Dickson6148103
Cumberland6072117
Carter5926152
McMinn586289
Roane581795
Bedford5756117
Loudon563164
Jefferson5580116
Lawrence554681
Warren529875
Monroe526389
Dyer5222101
Hawkins518793
Franklin470684
Fayette463771
Obion435794
Rhea411773
Lincoln410561
Cocke396192
Marshall388354
Cheatham385743
Campbell378158
Weakley377559
Giles371095
Henderson361173
Carroll346881
Hardeman337663
Macon335073
White333965
Hardin329762
Lauderdale309342
Henry298975
Marion290244
Wayne286430
Scott285042
Overton283757
Claiborne273666
McNairy265051
Haywood264359
Hickman262840
DeKalb261548
Smith253336
Grainger240746
Trousdale237922
Morgan228537
Fentress228344
Johnson215038
Chester200647
Bledsoe198210
Crockett196946
Unicoi179347
Cannon173628
Polk173621
Union168930
Lake167326
Grundy166330
Sequatchie153927
Decatur153137
Humphreys151321
Benton149939
Lewis145724
Meigs125421
Jackson124834
Stewart123124
Clay106230
Perry102527
Houston102330
Moore93616
Van Buren79120
Pickett74723
Hancock49312

Community Events