A leading human rights organization released a report stating that the death penalty in Nigeria is often used in a discriminatory way against women. According to the Amnesty International report, the death penalty was used for abortion-related offences and so-called crimes of sexual impropriety that went against sharia (Islamic) law.
In addition, the crime of zina (sexual relations with someone other than a spouse) carries a mandatory death sentence if the accused is married and one hundred lashes if the accused is not married. The most recent case of sharia law being used against a woman for adultery was the case of Amina Lawal, who was sentenced to death by stoning. After great international and national outcry against the sentence, Lawal’s sentence was overturned.
Amnesty International is urging the Nigerian government to take steps to abolish the death penalty and practice and to ensure that the rights of girls and women are fully protected against discriminatory laws and practices.
The issue of danger to women’s rights by placing family law under the jurisdiction of sharia law has recently come under fire in both Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, the new constitution includes such a provision and in Iraq, the Iraqi Governing Council has