Author Topic: Good Article On Islamic Treatment of Women  (Read 84 times)


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Good Article On Islamic Treatment of Women
« on: November 16, 2002, 03:21:58 PM »,,3-478732,00.html

God will get me through, says mother
by Janine di Giovanni
Nigeria tolerates the Miss World beauty contest and brutal Islamic laws
AS MORE than 80 young women arrived amid great fanfare in the Nigerian capital to take part in the Miss World contest, an illiterate 31-year-old woman sat in a stark room a few miles away contemplating a very different fate. Amina Lawal has been sentenced to death by stoning.
The contestants flew in from London with teased hair and full make-up, teetering on stilettos across a thick red carpet rolled out in their honour at the Abuja Hilton. Ms Lawal sat barefoot, nursing the sick baby girl who has brought her another form of fame.

The beauty queens welcomed so effusively by the Nigerian Government on Monday night are symbols of the West’s obsession with sex, celebrity and material gain. “We’re here to put Nigeria on the map of international beauty,” declared Julia Morley, the Miss World president.

Ms Lawal, by contrast, has become a symbol of hardline Islam’s intolerance of any form of moral laxity, at least among the poor. For the alleged adultery that led to the birth of Wasila, now ten months old, she is to be buried up to her neck and stoned until she dies.

Several contestants have boycotted the Miss World pageant in protest, but Ms Lawal is only dimly aware of the global controversy that her case has caused. There is no electricity in her village of Kurami, two hours north of Abuja, let alone television.

“I appreciate the sympathy,” she told The Times, but her immediate concerns are finding medical care for her daughter and wondering whether she will live to see Wasila walk. Unless her second appeal succeeds she will be executed as soon as Wasila is weaned or by 2004, whichever is sooner.

Ms Lawal comes from the northern state of Katsina, one of a dozen in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north that have adopted Islamic law, or Sharia. I brought her to Abuja after protracted negotiations through a middleman. For a white woman to enter her secluded village would increase the villagers’ hostility towards her. As she talks she seems oddly unafraid, bearing the horror of her sentence with a terrible fatalism. Her life has always been difficult, she says, and this is one more task that God has put before her.

“I don’t remember much of my childhood, it was too hard,” she said. “The day was spent just getting enough food. What is happening to me now is something that God will take care of.”

Like thousands of other women in northern Nigeria, she was married before puberty. She had two children as a teenager. “I was young but I loved my husband,” she said. “It was all I knew.”

He abandoned her, however, for reasons she still does not understand and she returned to live with her father and his four wives.

One day, after accepting a lift on a motorcycle, she was raped by a man she thought was a friend. When it became obvious that she was pregnant the fundamentalist vigilantes, known as Hisbah, turned her over to the Sharia court.

When Ms Lawal heard her sentence, she bore it stoically. “I will get through this, with God,” she whispered, holding Wasila against her cheek. She tries not to think about what will happen to this baby, or her other children, if the sentence is carried out.

Ms Lawal is not the only victim of Sharia, which was introduced in the Zamfara state as a political platform by the campaigning governor in 1999, then quickly taken up by 11 other northern states.

There are four other cases of women sentenced to be stoned for adultery. There are also 11 children in Sokoto state awaiting amputation for stealing.

Ms Lawal’s lawyer, Hauwa Ibrahim, said: “We have heard they are waiting for the amputation machine to arrive.” Ms Ibrahim is a human rights activist who works pro bono defending victims of Sharia. Her first case involved pleading unsuccessfully against a woman’s sentence of 180 lashes for lying and having sex outside marriage.

The victims have one thing in common: they are poor. They have all, according to aid workers, been used as examples by the court to frighten others into submission. “The rich do exactly the same thing but they are not punished,” said one worker. “One of the judges who tried these women got his girlfriend pregnant. Other members of the Sharia court had daughters who got pregnant. Nothing ever happens to them.”

Shortly before the Miss World contestants arrived I sat in a field two hours away in Niger State with Amadu Ibrahim, a 30-year-old man who will also die by stoning if his sentence is upheld, along with his former lover, Fatima.

The couple have become the Romeo and Juliet of their village, New Gawu, punished because they fell in love while Amadu was married and Fatima between husbands.

When Fatima became pregnant Mr Ibrahim would not marry her. So she married another man. He left her when he discovered the truth. Fatima’s father then turned the couple over to the police. They were sentenced to die even though their relationship occurred before Sharia was introduced.

Fatima is now guarded by officials three hours away from her village, but Mr Ibrahim, a firewood stacker, is allowed to remain at home with his teenage wife, Awa, and his children. He says that he is not afraid to die but is terrified of the stoning. “I think about it all the time even if you see a smile on my face,” he said.

The Miss World contest has brought the plight of these victims to the world’s attention, but as Ms Ibrahim, says: “When the contest is finished everyone will go home and we will still be here.”

For now at least, Nigeria’s federal government insists that it will never allow Ms Lawal’s execution to take place. “I assure you, no Nigerian has been stoned or will be stoned,” Dubem Onyiam, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told the Miss World contestants. “Relax and enjoy yourselves.”

Ms Ibrahim is not so hopeful, though she pledges to keep fighting right up to the Supreme Court. “There are a lot of fanatics, a lot of fundamentalists, who can do what they want,” she said grimly.

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Re:Good Article On Islamic Treatment of Women
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2002, 04:56:19 PM »
for some reason, i knew that you would bring up nigeria....

the nigerian muslim leaders are crazy..

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Re:Good Article On Islamic Treatment of Women
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2002, 12:14:02 AM »
for some reason, i knew that you would bring up nigeria....

the nigerian muslim leaders are crazy..
"One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. "Which road do I take?" she asked. "Where do you want to go?" was his response. "I don't know," Alice answered. "Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

- Lewis Carroll