BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Somali Swahili French Great Lakes Hausa Portugeuse
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: World: Africa  
News Front Page
World
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent
-------------
Letter From America
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Monday, 8 July, 2002, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
Nigerian woman fights stoning
Amina Lawal
Amina Lawal's baby, Wasila, is evidence of her "crime"

An Islamic court in northern Nigeria has begun hearing an appeal from a woman convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning under controversial Sharia, or Islamic, law.

Amina Lawal will have to wait a while yet for the judgement. After hearing from her defence counsel today, the four Sharia judges have adjourned the case until next month.


If there is one issue that threatens to divide this country more than any other it is the implementation of these strict Islamic laws

Her lawyers, funded by human rights organisations, are claiming that the father of Amina's child is her former husband, using the defence allowable under Islamic law, that the foetus lay dormant in her womb since the divorce two years ago.

This is the second such case to come before the Sharia court of appeal.

The previous conviction was overturned earlier this year after intense international pressure from human rights groups.

Despite the Nigerian federal government declaring such strict Sharia punishments unconstitutional, the country's northern states appear determined to enforce these laws.

Amnesty campaigners next to a pile of stones outside Nigeria's embassy in Madrid
Amnesty International is campaigning against the stoning sentence

The convicted woman, Amina Lawal, now has an eight-month old baby daughter.

The existence of this child, born to a divorcee, was evidence enough to convict her of the crime of adultery.

Unless she can win an appeal against the judgement, she will be stoned to death.

Human rights campaigners say that the punishment is not only inhumane but severely discriminates against women.

To convict a man of the same crime he must either confess directly to the court, or no less than four men have to attest to witnessing the physical act of adultery.

Religious split

If there is one issue that threatens to divide this country more than any other it is the implementation of these strict Islamic laws in the majority Muslim northern states.

Nigerian Muslim girls
Women's rights groups say Sharia is harsh for women

Although the punishment only applies to Muslims, Christians in the north feel threatened and tensions between the two communities have led to major outbreaks of inter-religious violence over the past three years.

The federal government has declared such Sharia punishments unconstitutional but, in direct defiance of this, northern leaders have pressed ahead, resisting what they describe as "undue pressure" from non-Muslims in the Nigerian Government.

If Amina Lawal loses her appeal this time, she can take her case all the way to the Supreme Court in Abuja.

Only then would the debate come to a head and the constitutionality of the strict Sharia punishments really be tested.


Miss World row

Analysis

Features

BACKGROUND
See also:

26 Mar 02 | Africa
22 Mar 02 | Africa
18 Mar 02 | Africa
19 Oct 01 | Africa
14 Sep 01 | Africa
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes