Honor Related Violence (Sudan)

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Sanaa Awadkareem, face disfigured by acid, 2005

This human tragedy, a crime of passion by proxy, began in 2005 when Sanaa, then a 17 year old high school student preparing for her High school university entrance examinations was forced to marry a town clerk from a nearby village from her home of Um Hajjar ,Managil province, Central Sudan. Her family and particularly her father did not heed her repeated objections to the marriage. Following a honeymoon from hell, as was described in one of the local articles, she moved with her estranged groom to Khartoum North, in the outskirts of the Sudanese capital. After several months of feuding with her groom, and in which the husband attempted to entice the bride with witchcraft and local black magic potions, to which both she and her family were exposed, she returned to live with her family in their home in Um Haggar Almakashfi,in central Sudan. Shortly thereafter her estranged husband Altirafi Awadallah Ahmed, planned with malice aforethought his wicked revenge. Under the pretext of visiting Sanaa’s hometown for a family funeral, he began to convince the most naïve and sympathetic of Sanaa’s relatives ,her brother Mustafa. He convinced him that if he poured the magical potion of spiritual waters that a learned Sheikh (spiritual leader) had prepared, the evil spirit that bewitched Sanaa would leave her and she would view her husband in a favourable manner and they would be able to resume a normal married life. The naïve brother asked the husband if he would pour the potion himself but the husband told him that the spiritual healer had decreed that a blood relative should pour it in order for the spell to be broken.

So while the beautiful Sanaa lay sleeping in the early morning hours of the night Altirafi and Mustafa stealthily crept to where she lay quietly amidst her parents and Mustafa poured the “magic potion” over his sister’s face , unbeknownst to him that he was pouring a highly concentrated solution of caustic soda( concentrated sodium hydroxide solution). It was later discovered that Altirafi had bought the caustic soda from a tyre and battery repair shop under false pretence.

As Sanaa was rudely awakened by the hot caustic liquid burning her face scalp and eyes she began to scream and startled her parents and upon hearing her cries of agony her mother in a state of shock from the grotesque scene started to cry out loudly, upon which the cowardly groom ran away and her brother in shock stood by and watched. The loud agonizing screams awoke the neighbours and one of Sanaa’s brothers came to her rescue, poured water all over her face, unfortunately the damage was already done. Sanaa’s beautiful face ( see attached before & after images) became a coagulated red scorched piece of scarred meat , which would later swell to a black balloon. Her beautiful silky black hair began to fall en masse and worst of all her eyes burnt beyond recognition became rock solid and she could not move her eyeballs, particularly her left eye which was rendered a coagulated burnt ball. Her brothers immediately transferred her to Almanagil Hospital and following that to several other hospitals in the capital where she underwent multiple attempts of plastic surgery consisiting of skin grafts and reconstructive surgery to the nose and other facial structures. However a final decision was made to send her to Egypt for reconstructive surgery to the eyes as one eye was functional( the right eye).In Egypt she received several sessions of ophthalmic reconstruction, scalp reconstructive surgery and six months of laser therapy / sessions. The surgical treatment was an economic hardship on the family and finally they ran out of money and returned to Sudan, after a year of struggle abroad.
Sanaa Awadkareem : Our collective tragedy
SudaneseOnline, October 27, 2009