An Islamic appeals court overturned Amina Lawal’s sentence of death by stoning for adultery. According to the Associated Press, the five-judge panel dismissed the sentence against Lawal because she was not caught in the act of adultery and was not given “ample opportunity to defend herself.”
The Northern Nigerian Islamic Court sentenced Lawal, a single mother, to death by stoning for having sex out of wedlock on March 22, 2002. Lawal’s case drew huge international outcry from women’s rights and human rights groups, Western governments, the Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and other world leaders.
Lawal was the second Nigerian woman condemned to death by stoning for engaging in sex before marriage. The first woman, Safiya Hussaini, had her sentence overturned in March 2002 on her first appeal. Sharia law was established in northern Nigeria’s mostly Muslim state Zamfara in 2000 and has spread to at least twelve other states since then. Under sharia law, pregnancy outside of marriages constitutes sufficient evidence for a woman to be convicted of adultery.
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