An Islamic court in Nigeria today upheld a sentence of death by stoning against a 31-year-old Nigerian woman, Amina Lawal Kurami. After giving birth to a child outside of marriage, Kumari was found guilty of adultery in October of 2001, and her appeal was rejected by a lower court in the Katsina state in March. The judge, Abdullah Aliyu Katsina, said that the stoning should not be carried out until the child is weaned. According to BBC News, a spokesperson for the minister of women’s affairs in Nigeria stated that they are going to appeal this decision to the Nigerian Supreme Court, where the central government has declared such harsh sharia punishment as unconstitutional. The ministry and human rights groups have 30 days to lodge this appeal.
Kumari’s sentence is part of an alarming trend in Nigeria. In January 2001, seventeen-year-old Bariya Ibrahim Magazu of Zamfara, Nigeria, was sentenced to 180 lashes for having premarital sex and making so-called false accusations against men in her village; her sentence was later reduced to 100 lashes.
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. The introduction of Islamic holy law has created tensions between the Christian and Islamic populations there. At least two riots have broken out over the threat of introducing sharia, resulting in the deaths of more that 3,000 thousand people. For more on sharia in Nigeria and its effect on women, see previous articles on Feminist News.