FMF And NOW Protest Woman’s Death Sentence At Nigerian Embassy
The Feminist Majority Foundation joined forces with the Capital City National Organization for Women (NOW) in a protest at the Nigerian Embassy today to demand that the Nigerian government take action to immediately reverse the unjust sentence of death for Nigerian woman Amina Lawal Kurami, who bore a child out of wedlock. NOW President Kim Gandy led the protest in Washington to not only urge the Nigerian government take action but to also call upon the US State Department and citizens of the world to pressure the United Nations and Nigeria to protect the fundamental human rights of Kurami and all Nigerian women that are guaranteed through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) – two treaties that Nigeria has signed.
On August 19, a regional Nigerian appeals court rejected Kurami’s appeal to the death by stoning sentence, which was handed down to her in October 2001for having sex outside of marriage. The appeals judge said the sentence would be carried out as soon as Kurami weaned her daughter from breast-feeding. The man Kurami identified as the child's father denied the accusation and was acquitted for lack of evidence last spring.
Kurami’s lawyers will next appeal her case to higher Islamic court and possibly to the Supreme Court. While the central government of Nigeria has voiced their opposition to the application of Islamic law, which calls for such punishments as the cutting off a hand for theft and death for committing adultery, and pledged their own lawyers to help Kurami in her upcoming appeals – more needs to be done to ensure that the sentence is not carried out.
If the case does reach the Supreme Court, it will result in a battle between the central government and the Muslim North. Sharia, Islamic law, was established in northern Nigeria’s mostly Muslim state Zamfara in 2000 and has since spread to at least 12 other states. The introduction of Islamic holy law has created tensions between the Christian and Islamic populations. At least two riots have broken out over the threat of introducing sharia, resulting in the deaths of more than 3,000 people.