Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Nigerian’s perspective of the WLUML’s global campaign to end the brutal practice of stoning

Sequel to the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, where states were called upon to abide by their international human rights obligations and ban the act of stoning in countries where this still exists in law and practice. To this end, the Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) in collaboration with its global partners launched a campaign with the ultimate goal to end the brutal practice of stoning globally.
In the short-term by November 25, 2013, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, this campaign seeks to garner a critical mass of 10,000 supporters worldwide to sign the online petition, advocating for a UN resolution against stoning on In the medium-to-long term, the campaign’s goal is to completely ban stoning in countries where it still exists in law and criminalize those who engage in this heinous practice worldwide.
In line with this mandate, BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, as one of the joint partners in the WLUML global campaign to stop stoning, highlights this act from the Nigerian’s perspective. Stoning as a legalised form of punishment in Nigeria for sexual offences (such as adultery and fornication - Zina) can be traced back to the institution of Sharia penal code in the northern region since 1960, some of the punishments in its penal code includes 100 lashes (flogging) for engaging in any sexual relationship if the individual is unmarried.
In 1999, the Zamfara State governor at the time, reintroduced and expanded Sharia penal codes in the state. This action of implementing Sharia penal code was replicated by eleven other northern governors in their respective states, namely Kano, Katsina, Niger, Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Gombe, Sokoto, Jigawa, Yobe, and Kebbi. Stoning is the prescribed penalty in all these states as the punishment for women convicted of “illicit sexual affair”.
Stoning is an ancient form of capital punishment. There are historical reports of stoning from ancient Greece but the act of stoning is still retained by some religion till date, yet the act precede most religion. Stoning is often powered and executed based on misinterpretation of religious text and on cultural grounds; of which women are the most susceptible. Till date, stoning as an act of punishment for sexual offences (Zina) has never been implemented in Nigeria, although we have had near case occurrences which include:
  • In 2002, Safiya Hussaini was the first woman to be sentenced to stoning in  Sokoto State for giving birth to a child as a single woman. Her sentence was overturned on her first appeal.
  • In 2002, Aminal Lawal was the second woman to be sentenced to stoning in Katsina State for adultery and conceiving a child out of wedlock. The father of the child was not persecuted for lack of evidence and deemed innocent by the court with a DNA test. Her conviction was later overturned.
The sheer possibility of the cruel punishment of stoning being executed in Nigeria is in itself a tormenting thought. Now is the time for Nigerians as well as citizens from any country where such an act exist in law and practice, to join this campaign against stoning and urge the UN to take action on abolishing stoning in law.

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