6th March 2014 – Ahead of the Global Day of Action against the Nigerian anti-gay laws taking place tomorrow, Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) and the Violence is Not our Culture (VNC) campaign express our solidarity with the LGBT people of Nigeria in resisting these laws, which contradict human rights.
As a network of Global South women’s rights activists and advocates, we have long seen the way that claims to cultural ‘authenticity’ and regressive interpretations of religion have been used to justify the violence that women suffer. The state-sanctioned persecution of LGBT people happening in Nigeria stems from the very same ideology, and uses the same ‘justifications’.
During Ramadan, a great uproar took place in Nigeria over actions by the government that were interpreted as trying to legalise child marriage. During a constitutional review, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima argued that a subsection of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution should not be removed as it affects the rights of Muslim women. Section 29 of the Nigerian constitution allows Nigerian citizens aged 18 and above to give up their citizenship.
Ibrahim Kanuma winces as he recalls the moment a 63-year-old man asked him for his teenage daughter's hand in marriage. The proposal was not unusual in north-western Nigeria's remote, dust-blown state of Zamfara, but he considered the suitor too old for his only daughter, Zainab, 13.
"The baobab connotes spiritual strength . . . and fortitude . . . in distressing times." Ayesha Imam and the women she worked with for years in the Nigerian organization BAOBAB for Women's Human Rightspossess those very traits. The group, founded in 1996, fights to protect women's rights in the maze of the Nigerian legal system, with its overlapping religious, secular and customary laws and courts.
The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has reached a state of total contempt even for universal norms. That means it is a war to the end. Yet there is too much pussyfooting and false intellectualisation of what is going on. President Jonathan should declare war on the group.
Women Living Under Muslim Laws, the Violence is not our Culture Campaign, and Justice for Iran are pleased to announce the release of a new publication: Mapping Stoning in Muslim Contexts. This report locates where the punishment of stoning is still in practice, either through judicial (codified as law) or extrajudicial (outside the law) methods.
Womankind works to address issues arising from taboos around sexuality; women's limited ownership of their bodies; customary practices that constitute major human rights violations; the discriminatory nature of laws related to sexuality which lead to severe human rights violations; the discrepancies between law and practice; the conceptualization of women's bodies and sexuality as belonging to men, their families and society, and insufficient sexual and reproductive health services available to Women to claim their sexual rights in Karu and Keffi in Nasarawa State, north central Nigeria.