Safiya Hussaini

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Safiya Hussaini Tungar Tudu (born 1967) is a Nigerian woman condemned to death for adultery in 2002. She gave birth to a child as a single woman in Sokoto, a Nigerian state under Sharia law. She was sentenced to be stoned, but was acquitted of all charges in March 2002 after a retrial.

Background[edit]

Hussaini was sentenced to death by stoning in October 2001 for allegedly having a child with a married neighbour. She had the child after her divorce. Hussaini said, she was the victim of repeated rape by a man, whom the Sharia court found not guilty due to lack of sufficient evidence. During the trial, Hussaini had no legal representation and was not informed of her legal rights.[1] The Sokoto court dismissed her testimony and convicted her on 12 October 2001.

The verdict was wide and international protests inviting campaigns and petitions to release her. Halima Abdullahi, director of Help Eliminate Loneliness and Poverty, HELP, a non-governmental organisation, also faulted the verdict. In a statement she said “it was a thorough embarrassment” to majority of Nigerian Muslims. The group argued that the judgment was wrong because Safiya was accused of adultery instead of fornication, since she was a divorcee. Again, four witnesses stipulated by the Islamic law were not available at the trial. The verdict was passed because Safiya comes from an under-privileged class, the organisation argued. While describing the verdict as “gender discrimination of the highest order,” the group called on Governor Attahiru Bafarawa to intervene to save Safiya’s life.[2]

Hussaini appealed and her lawyers argued that Hussaini's former husband was the father of her one-year-old daughter Adama and that the village woman made her original statement under duress.[3] Further they said the alleged act of adultery had taken place before the sharia law was implemented in the state. Full Sharia law was established in Sokoto in June 2000, a month after baby Adama was conceived.[4][5] She was defended by Nigerian human rights lawyer Hauwa Ibrahim.

Hussaini won her appeal on March 25, 2002 and the case was dismissed. The Appeal Court in Sokoto found that the death sentence, originally handed down by an Islamic Sharia court in October, had been baseless. The court ruled that the adultery provisions of Sokoto's Sharia law could not be used against Safiya, as the alleged adultery must have taken place before the introduction of Sharia law in Sokoto.[6][7]

Hussaini's plight was later recorded in the book, Safiya Hussaini Tungar Tudu: I, Safiya (2004).[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ INSIDE AFRICA
  2. ^ Lawyers, non - governmental organisations protest sharia court death sentence on a pregnant divorcee and mother of four
  3. ^ Nigerian Woman Avoids Stoning Death
  4. ^ Safiya: "My crime is being a woman"
  5. ^ Nigerian Woman Wins Reprieve from Stoning
  6. ^ Safiya Hussaini
  7. ^ Safiya Hussaini acquitted by Nigerian court
  8. ^ Thomson, Margie (28 May 2004). "Safiya Hussaini Tungar Tudu: I, Safiya". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 

External links[edit]