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Fighting for a woman's life: while it is still day.

Yet another woman's life the brink of death in the name of Sharia. Hajiya Amina Lawal has been condemned to death by stoning for allegedly committing adultery and conceiving as a result. If a particular religion or sect decides unilaterally to eliminate its members, the State should have the responsibility of ensuring that the religious body or sect conforms to constitutional provisions because it is breaching a right; the human right to life, No cult, sect or religion should be allowed to breach the right to life.

There are various instruments that Nigeria has been signatory to and has ratified, but which are not being taken into consideration. The African Charter on Human and People's rights and the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) exist. In both of these instruments, as is in other related ones, are fundamental principles, which guarantee respect for human life, human dignity and gender equality, forbidding all forms of discrimination on the basis of gender. We ere thus confronted with certain questions: how strong is Nigeria's commitment to the implementation of these agreements? Does the country lack the ability or competence to protect, defend and enforce human rights and protect its citizenry from violence? Does the constitution allow anybody to promulgate or enforce parallel laws within the jurisdiction of the Nigerian constitution?

I would not congratulate anybody for an alleged indulgence in an adulterous act. My own belief condemns it. However, we have not established Lawal's guilt beyond reasonable doubt. If there was such an act, did she commit adultery by herself ? For a case of adultery to be established, there must be a second party. If she has been found guilty, why has the partner not been found guilty? The only reason why there is so much noise is that there is a child to show for the 'act', I imagine that there are a thousand and one Sharia-compliant females who may be involved in extra marital affairs, who are not being 'brought to book.'

What parameter has been used for Lawal that cannot be used for the father of the child? What moral justification does the Sharia have to condemn Lawal to death without mentioning the man involved?

If the Sharia decides to expel Lawal from the faith or mosque permanently or if her husband decides to divorce her for infidelity, that would be one thing, To snuff life out of another human being requires more serious deliberation. The validity of that law that sentenced Lawal to death needs critical consideration within the context of the constitution.

Shouldn't the custodians of Sharia consider the psychological trauma the child will go through as she grows up, having been denied the requisite care and support of a mother who did not die during labour? She would die, as a result of being sentenced to death, because of her faith and because she brought a child, to the world. Who would nurture this child after the planned elimination of the mother? Why is the child being kept alive? Does the Sharia allow an illegitimate child to live after sentencing the mother to death? Is this act of condemnation and sentence of death just? Is this moral? Must we correct a wrong with a wrong? And, will the weeping of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria correct the injustices of the Sharia?

There is great need to revisit Sharia. What is striking, is that no affluent male or female has been reported to have been found guilty of these acts. Do the rich not indulge in such acts? Or do the Sharia judges only victimise the poor, especially the women folk? I call on the women's organisations in Nigeria and all over the world, and the international community, to rise up against this outrage. If need be, let us take to the streets in silent protest of this intended action.

Chidubem Akinyede is a member of the African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)

PENDANT QUE C'EST ENCORE POSSIBLE

Au nom de la Sharia, une femme pourra faire face a la mort. Hahija Amina Lawal a ete condamnee a mort par jet de pierres pour avoir, selon les accusations portees contre elle, commis l'adultere et concu en consequence. Lorsqu'une religion ou une secte particuliere decide unilateralement d'eliminer Ses membres, il revient a l'Etat de s'assurer que le corps religieux ou secte dont il s'agit se conforme aux provisions la loi, parce qu'une telle institution se trouve en train d'enfreindre une loi : le Droit de l'Homme a la vie.

Le Nigeria est signataire de plusieurs instruments et les a aussi ratifies, mais ceux--ci ne sont pas pris en consideration. La Charte Africaine des Droits de l'Homme et des Peuples et la Convention sur l'Elimination de Toutes les Formes de Discrimination contre les Femmes (CEDAW) sont de ceux-la. Ces deux formes d'instruments, au meme titre que plusieurs autres, disposent de principes fondamentaux qui garantissent le respect de la vie et de la dignite humaines, ainsi que Iegalite entre les sexes, et la prohibition de toutes formes de discriminations sur la base des inegalites entre les sexes. Nous sommes alors confrontes a certaines questions : jusqu'a quel point le Nigeria est-il dispose a respecter son engagement a la mise en ouvre de ces accords ? Manque t-il a ce pays la capacite ou la competence de defendre et d'appliquer les droits de l'homme et de proteger ses citoyens contre la violence ? Les statuts permettent-ils a certaines personnes de promulguer et d'appliquer des lois paralleles sous la juridiction de la loi nigeriane ? Je n'ai pas l'intention de feliciter qui que ce soit pour une certaine indulgence manifestee par un acte d'adultere. Mes propres croyances le condamnent. Cependant, nous n'avons pas etabli la culpabilite de Lawal au-dela de tous les doutes raisonnables. Si un tel acte a effectivement ete commis, l'aurait-t-elle commis seule ? Pour que le cas d'adultere soit etabli, l'existence d'une deuxieme partie est absolument indispensable. Si elle a ete jugee coupable, pourquoi le partenaire ne l'a t-il pas ete lui aussi? La seule raison qui justifie tout ce bruit est qu'il y a un enfant qui prouve l'authenticite de l"acte'. Jimagine donc qu'il existe mille et une femmes soumises a la loi Sharia qui entretiennent des relations extra maritales, mais ne peuvent pas etre traduites en justice.

Quel est ce parametre utilise pour Lawal qui ne peut pas l'etre pour le pere de l'enfant? Quelle est la justification morale dont dispose la Sharia pour condamner Lawal a mort sans mentionner l'homme concerne ?

Si la Sharia decidait d'excommunier Lawal de la foi ou de la mosquee de facon permanente, ou si son epoux decidait de divorcer d'avec elle pour cause d'infidelite, ce serait autre chose. Mais il est absolument indispensable de proceder a de plus serieuses deliberations pour decider de mettre fin a la vie d'un etre humain. La validite de cette loi qui a prononce la sentence de mort sur Lawal devrait etre serieusement examinee par la loi.

Les tenants de la loi Sharia ne devraient-ils pas tenir compte du traumatisme psychologique que vivra cet enfant en grandissant apres qu'on lui ait refuse les soins et soutien d'une mere qui n'est pas morte pendant l'accouchement? Elle aura ete morte apres avoir ete condamnee mort, a cause de sa foi et pour avoir fait un enfant au monde. Qui s'occupera de cet enfant apres l'elimination envisagee de sa mere ? La Sharia permet-elle a un enfant illegitime de vivre apres avoir corldamne sa mere a mort ? Cet acte de condamnation a mort est-il juste ? Est-ce moral ? Un mal devrait-il etre corrige par un autre mal ? Et les lamentations du President de la Republique du Nigeria suffiront-elles pour corriger les injustices de la Sharia ?

Il est absolument indispensable de reexaminer la Sharia. Ce qui est curieux, c'est que jusque-la, aucune personne influente n'a ete reportee avoir commis ces offenses. Cela implique-t-il que les riches ne commettent pas de tels actes ? Ou bien est-ce que la Sharia ne s'interesse qu'a accuser les pauvres, et plus specialement les femmes demunies ?

Je lance un appel a toutes les organisations feminines du Nigeria et du monde entier, ainsi qu'a la communaute internationale, de contrer cet outrage. Sil le faut, nous pourrions organiser une marche sliencieuse contre la realisation de cette action.

Chidubem Akleyede est un membre de (FEMNET)
COPYRIGHT 2002 African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)
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Author:Akinyede, Chidubem
Publication:Femnet News
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Oct 1, 2002
Words:1388
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