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Tuesday, 7 November, 2000, 13:42 GMT
Nigerian women appeal for husbands
Zamfara girls
Divorcees and widows say there is a shortage of men
By Ibrahim Dosara in Gusau, Zamfara State

Economic hardship and early and forced marriages are leading to a large number of divorced women in northern Nigeria.

This appears to be causing concern to the authorities in the region.

They warned that the situation may force them to commit crimes against Sharia law

Several state governments have gone as far as lowering the dowry price from a minimum of $1,000 to just $10, so the less fortunate can afford to get married.

Despite this, little progress appears to have been made.

Now a group of divorcees and widows has taken to the streets in Zamfara State to demonstrate against the lack of husbands.

March for men

More than 1,000 divorcees and widows marched round the major streets of the municipal town of Bungudu to show their anger and annoyance with men with less than two wives.

The protesters want such men to come to their rescue by marrying them in order to reduce the number of widows and divorcees roaming about in the towns and villages of the state.

School in Zamfara
Sharia law covers most areas of life
After going round the major streets the protesters went to the Emir's palace where they aired their grievances.

They said the Emir should use his influence to persuade men to increase the number of their wives as part of their contribution to the implementation of Sharia law in the state.

They warned that the situation may force them to commit crimes against Sharia law.

The Emir pledged to support their demands.

One of the divorcees I spoke to told me that since she was divorced 11 years ago only two people had attempted to marry her but neither were serious.

She said many men try and deceive women by making promises to marry them but then change their minds.

A widow told me she lost her husband in a motor accident six years ago and since then no one has attempted to marry her.

Dowry costs

When Sharia law was introduced in the state the cost of marriage with dowries was reduced by the government but many women vehemently refused to comply.

Muslim girl
The spread of Sharia divides opinions
A young man in the state capital Gusau told me his inability to marry was due to economic reasons.

He said men require between $500-$1,000 to marry the woman of their choice and he was not able to afford that amount of money.

Other men I spoke to told me that they are sceptical of taking so-called "second-hand" wives for fear of HIV.

Under Islamic law a man is entitled to up to four wives under certain conditions.

He has to be economically viable, able to provide food, clothing and accommodation to all his wives and to share his love equally among them.

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See also:

21 Jun 00 | Africa
Analysis: Sharia takes hold
21 Jun 00 | Africa
The many faces of Sharia
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