**WARNING : GRAPHIC CONTENT READER DISCRETION ADVISED**
March 02, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — A 20 years old Sudanese girl fell victim to a long standing, yet fading tradition of forced marriage.
- Sana’a Al-Amin before and after (Al-Rayaam)
Sana’a Al-Amin, well known for her beauty, was just finishing high school when an elderly man in his mid-forties from a nearby village proposed to her. Despite her refusal the father approved of the marriage and the formal Islamic rituals were held in her absence while she was attending a boarding school.
Al-Amin attempted to confront her father and even told him that she “prefers death to marrying this man” but with no avail.
Islamic Shari’a law prohibits forced marriage and stipulates the bride’s acceptance for a marriage to be valid but many families still routinely bypass this rule, particularly in rural areas.
The husband, who was identified as Al-Tareefi Awad-Alla Ahmed, took his bride to spend the honeymoon at a Wad-Madani hotel but she resisted all his attempts to have sex with her during the time they spent together. The angry husband sent Al-Amin off to her parent’s house but father again forced her to return to his house in an area North of Khartoum.
The same situation that occurred during their honeymoon was repeated again and this time they spent four months together before he sent Al-Amin back to her parents’ house.
However this time the husband had a revenge plan in mind highly unusual in its nature and complexity for the Sudanese society.
Ahmed went and bought some acid water from a shop close to his workplace and told that owner that he needs it to remove some hard stains in his house. He then approached Al-Amin’s brother Mustafa and told him that a “religious sheik” gave him a special kind of liquid to help heal the rift between the couple and asked him to spill it on his sister’s face while asleep.
When Al-Amin’s brother asked the husband why he can’t complete the task himself the response was that “the sheik said one of her brothers has to do it or else it won’t work”.
It was around 3 am when everyone was sleeping, Mustafa unaware of that he was ruining his sister’s life for good, went and spilled highly concentrated Sulphuric acid directly on Al-Amin’s face melting away the skin and flesh and causing non-repairable damage to her left eye.
Sana’a Al-Amin, speaking to the daily Al-Rayaam about her ordeal while wearing a dark veil on her face, said that she woke up “feeling unimaginable pain” and she started "screaming hysterically". One of her brothers got a large bucket of water and threw it all over her but it was too late.
“My face was burning with pain, my eyes were not moving and my face turned black and became a piece of decomposed rotten meat. My hair fell off and I became bold then I passed out” she said.
Al-Rayaam’s reporter Al-Tag Osman who insisted that Al-Amin’s be photographed said that he was shaken and started crying when she revealed her face.
“The shock of what I saw made me speechless and shocked” Osman wrote.
Sana’s brother, Awad Al-Karim, a student at the university of Juba, Faculty of Economics was standing by Sana’a throughout her unfortunate mishap, speaking in pain and grief to Al-Rayaam said that Sana’a was admitted to Al-Manakel hospital, where she stayed for two days, her eyes and eyebrows were fixed and not moving, with a swollen and puffy face , she was transferred to a hospital in Khartoum where she stayed for (10) days, before being transferred to a hospital in Omdurman, where misfortunes began to follow, it became clear that her left eye was completely damaged, as the acid leaked into the eyes, destroyed all the cells and dried up the eye liquid.
As the cornea was fully burned, the specialist surgeon decided to perform a plastic surgery to restore her face shape so he removed a skin part from the right thigh to repair the face, forehead and nose.
After « 45 » days the surgeon scrapped the scalp and took the chip from the left thigh skin and transplanted it into the head , (10) days after the second surgery , Sana’a was discharged from the hospital, and because her face was so deformed , we decided to go to our uncle’s home, where we stayed for two whole months , and then we moved to Khartoum to follow up with the plastic surgery specialist who recommended that we should go to Cairo for the treatment of eyes and complete the unfinished task of the plastic surgery there.
The police arrested Al-Amin’s brother Mustafa and the husband but the case was later closed after some of the village elders intervened and paid 21,000 Sudanese pounds ($10,000) which they used for the medical procedures in Cairo, Egypt.
Al-Amin said that her brother who spilled the acid fled to South Sudan “feeling the enormous burden of guilt”.
“I told him I forgive you [Mustafa]. You did not do it on purpose” she said.
Her mother, who has yet to see her daughter’s face, has been confined to her house unable to move and her father is still in a state of trauma, she added.
The widely popular Sudaneseonline.com discussion board has sponsored a campaign to raise money for Sana’a to deal with the long journey of plastic surgeries and medical treatment. Sana’a Al-Amin’s case has drawn an overwhelming support from Sudanese both inside the country and abroad.
For those interested in donating money to Sana’a Al-Amin’s, Sudaneseonline.com administrator Bakri Abu-Bakr, a Sudanese residing in Arizona designated a special Paypal account. The link is shown below
If you are able to help in ways other than monetary please send an email to email@example.com.
*Special thank goes to Al-Fatih Mirghani at the UAE embassy in Tokyo, Japan for translating the story in which parts of it was used for this article.