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PUNISHMENT FOR NON-MARITAL SEX IN ISLAM

Examples of convictions under Sharia law

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Some examples of recent convictions under Sharia law:

bullet1996-MAR: Afghanistan: Some strict interpretations of Islamic law calls for the death penalty for any woman found in the company of a man other than a close family member. Sexual activity is assumed to have happened. A woman, Jamila, was found guilty of trying to leave the country with such a man. She was caught and stoned to death on 1996-MAR-28. 1
bullet1996-NOV: Afghanistan: Under the previous, Taliban, regime, a woman, Nurbibi, 40, and a man Turylai, 38, were stoned to death in a public assembly using palm-sized stones. They were found guilty of non-marital sex. Turylai was dead within ten minutes, but Nurbibi had to be finished off by dropping a large rock on her head. Mr. Wali, head of the Office for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prohibition of Vice expressed satisfaction with the execution: "...I am very happy, because it means that the rule of Islam is being implemented." These executions (as well as hand amputations for convicted thieves) are regarded as religious occasions and are not normally viewed by non-Muslims. 2
bullet2000-FEB: United Arab Emirates: Kartini binti Karim, (a.k.a. Ms. Karteen Karikanderan), an unmarried citizen of Indonesia, was working as a housemaid in the United Arab Emirates when her pregnancy was detected. She and a man -- a citizen of India -- were charged with adultery. She was convicted; he fled the country before he could be arrested. She was placed on trial without a lawyer or a translator, "...alone and equipped with barely any word of the local language," . She was not told that she had a right to communicate with her embassy. Her embassy was not informed in advance of the trial. Under the UAE's form of Sharia, she was sentenced to death by stoning. The Indonesian government hired a lawyer and translator to appeal her case. 3 On APR-25, the appeals court reduced her sentence to one year in prison, followed by deportation.
bullet2000-AUG: A woman, "Amina Abdullahi is sentenced to 100 lashes in the state of Zamfara for having premarital sex." 4
bullet2000-NOV: Attine Tanko, 18, is found guilty of having pre-marital sex out of wedlock. She was discovered to be pregnant. Her sentence of 100 lashes was deferred for up to two years after the birth, so that she could breastfeed her baby. Her boyfriend, 23, was flogged 100 times and given jail time. 4
bullet2001-SEP: Nigeria: A teenage single mother, Bariya Ibrahim Magazu claimed at trial that she was raped by three men. The court assumed that she was guilty, because she  could not prove that her father pressured her to engage in sexual activity with the men. She was found guilty of two offenses: having pre-marital sex, and bringing false charges against the men that she claimed were responsible. Her sentence was 180 lashes. 5  "When nongovernmental groups ramped up pressure to free the girl, the government immediately carried out the sentence, ignoring a promised appeal process. The local authorities said they wanted to put an end to the controversy." 6
bullet2001-OCT: Nigeria: Safiya Hussaini Tungar-Tudu, a 30-year-old pregnant woman, had asked a Sharia court in Sokoto state to force a man that she alleged had raped her, to pay for her daughter's naming ceremony. The court refused, and then charged her with engaging in sexual intercourse outside of marriage. She was sentenced to be stoned to death. The man that she allegedly had sex with was freed by the court for lack of evidence. She successfully appealed the conviction. An appeal judge overturned her conviction, stating that there were very serious errors in her arrest and trial. She had not been given any legal representation, and the court had failed to establish the basic facts of the case. Above all, the alleged act of adultery had taken place before the Sharia law was implemented in the state. She was freed, and planned to remarry her former husband.

According to an Australian newspaper, the governor of Sokoto, Attahiru Bafarawa, "attacked the European Union and women's rights groups for criticising the Islamic court that sentenced her. He said he had received more than 500 letters from interest groups and individuals protesting against the conviction." Bafarawa said: "Unfortunately, most of the human rights groups were not patient enough to allow justice to take its course in the case of Safiya. Instead, they chose to be putting pressure on the executive arm of the government to interfere with the course of justice." 7

bullet2001-DEC: Sudan: An 18 year-old pregnant woman, Abok Alfa Akok, was accused by her husband of adultery. She claimed that she had been raped. The man co-accused with Abok was not tried due to lack of evidence. She was tried, even though the country claims that Sharia would not be applied to non-Muslims. In Sudan, a married person found guilty of adultery is executed by stoning; an unmarried person receives 100 lashes. She had no lawyer, and was unaware of her rights during the trial. She could not speak or understand Arabic, the language of the court. The Court of Appeal in Southern Darfur overturned the death sentence and sent the case back to the lawyer court which set punishment at 75 lashes. By immediately executing the sentence, she was denied her right to obtain legal advice and/or an launch an appeal prior to the beating. 8
bullet 2002-MAR: Nigeria: Safiya Hussaini, 33, was convicted of adultery. She was sentenced to be buried up to her neck in sand and to be stoned to death. However, her sentence was deferred until her 13-month-old daughter has finished nursing. She appealed her conviction. Her cousin, a Mr. Abubakar allegedly confessed to police that he had sex with her three times. However, the judge dismissed the testimony of the three policemen who witnessed Abubakar's confession, because a minimum of four witnesses are required under Sharia law. Hussaini's lawyers claimed that she also could not be convicted because of the four witness rule. The prosecution argued that witnesses were not required in her case; adultery had obviously taken place because she had become pregnant. Her defense team finally argued that, under Islamic law, the interval between conception and birth can be up to seven years! Only two years previous to the birth of her daughter, she was still married to her husband. The lawyers argued that her husband could possibly have been the father. Commenting on the conviction, Aliyu Abubakar Sanyinna, the attorney general of Sokoto State, said: "Society is injured by her act. The danger is that it will teach other women to do the same thing." 9 Mansur Ibrahim Said, Dean of the Law Faculty at Dakar University in Sokoto said that adultery is "an abomination abhorred by God and society because of the example it gives and because it creates bastards to be rejected by society."  9

The appeals court later reversed the lower court conviction. They ruled that the alleged act had taken place before Sharia law was activated in the province, and adultery became a criminal offence. There was strong international interest in her case. The European Union, the parliament of Italy and many non-governmental organizations, appealed for Safiya to be spared. 10 In 2002-JUL, she married an entertainer in her local village.
bullet2002-MAR: Nigeria: A woman, Amina Lawal Kurami, from the small village of Kurami in Katsina in norther Nigeria was sentenced to death for adultery. The sentence was delayed for eight months (one source said 2 years) until she has finished breast feeding her infant. Nigerian Justice Minister, Kanu Agabi, declared this and other Sharia punishments discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional. This is the first time that the national government has made its position clear. 11 She appealed the conviction, on the basis that the offence occurred before Sharia law came into effect. Her lawyers also claimed that she had no legal representation in her original court trial before a village court. The appeal was rejected by the Islamic High Court in Funtua in Katsina state. Dozens of spectators cheered and shouted "God is great". Her execution will be delayed until at least 2004-JAN until her daughter has finished breastfeeding. The federal government is planning to help Kurami appeal her sentence to the Nigerian Supreme Court. This case may ignite a major legal battle between the state and federal governments. 12 Her case was eventually dismissed.
bullet2002-MAY: Nigeria: A man, Sarimu Mohammed, 50, was sentenced to be stoned to death by a court in Jigawa for raping a nine-year-old girl. 5
bullet2002:Bauchi: A woman, Adama Unusua, 19, was sentenced to 100 lashes by a Bauchi court, for engaging in sexual intercourse with her fiancé. She was pregnant at the time of the trial. 5
bullet2002-JUN: Nigeria: A Sharai court convicted a man, Yunusa Rafin Chiwaya, of adultery in the northern state of Bauchi, and sentenced him to be stoned to death. He had confessed to engaging in sexual activities with his neighbor's wife, and had declined multiple opportunities to withdraw his confession. The woman in the case was cleared after she swore on the Qur'an that she had been hypnotized before she left home with Chiwaya. 13
bullet2002-AUG-25: Nigeria: he Upper Sharia court in the northern state of Niger has sentenced two people to be stoned to death. Ahmadu Ibrahim, 32, and his lover Fatima Usman had confessed to pre-marital sex. They have 30 days in which to appeal the sentence. 14
bullet2002-AUG-30: USA: A group of 25 women from the National Organization of Women (NOW) demonstrated in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC chanting: "Stoning women is barbaric...Follow the law and not the Cleric." And: "Ho, Ho! Hey, Hey! Religious extremists go home and pray!" They carried signs that stated: "Nigeria, stop stoning women" and "Rocks are for gardens, not to hurt women." NOW overlooked the fact that more men than women have been sentenced to be stoned to death in Nigeria.  12
bullet2002-SEP-24: Nigeria: By a vote of 4 to 1, a five judge panel overturned Amina Lawal Kurami's conviction. The appeals court found that lower courts had committed many errors under Sharia law:
bulletMuslim belief allows for a five year interval between human conception and birth. Five years prior to the date of her daughter's birth, she was still married to her husband.
bulletShe was not given ample opportunity to defend herself.
bulletOnly one judge was present at her initial conviction; three are required under local Sharia law. 15

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References used:

  1. "Woman Executed in Afghanistan", Associated Press News Service, 1997-MAR-30
  2. "Afghanistan Execution for Adultery," New York Times News Service, 1996-NOV-06
  3. Patrick Leduc, "A woman seeking pardon," Digital Freedom Network, at: http://www.dfn.org/news/uae/kartini.htm
  4. "Fact Sheet: Women's Rights Under Sharia in Northern Nigeria," National Organization for Women, 2002-AUG-22, at: http://www.now.org/issues/global/082202sharia.html
  5. "Sharia Law," Guardian Unlimited, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/theissues/article/0,6512,777972,00.html
  6. Stephan Faris, "Final Decision Expected in Nigerian Stoning Case," Women's Enews," at: http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/
  7. Dan Isaacs, "Joy as court cancels stoning sentence," The Age, 2002-MAR-27, at: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/
  8. "Sudan: Dinka woman whipped in Nyala," Pambazuka Newsletter, 2002-FEB-28, at: http://southsudanfriends.org/News/
  9. "Law professor backs Nigerian stoning," AfricaWoman, at: http://www.africawoman.net/politics/sharialaw.html
  10. Glen McKenzie, "Islamic court debates appeal in stoning case: Nigernian woman sentenced to die for adultery," Associated Press, The Toronto Star, 2002-MAR-19, Page A14.
  11. Dan Isaacs, "Nigeria in crisis over Sharia law," BBC News, 2002-MAR-26, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/
  12. Jim Fisher-Thompson, "U.S. Women Protest Stoning Verdict by Nigerian Court. Activists decry 'barbaric' aspect of Sharia law," U.S. Department of State, International Information Programs at: http://usinfo.state.gov/regional/af/a2082903.htm
  13. Mark Duff, "Nigerian man faces death for adultery," BBC News, 2002-JUN-27, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/2070954.stm
  14. "Two lovers to die by stoning in Nigeria," Independent Online, at: http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?
  15. Todd Pitman, "Stoning death sentence overruled," The Toronto Star, 2003-SEP-26, Page A14

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Site navigation: Home page > World Religions > Islam > Sharia/Adultery > here

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Copyright © 2002 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-SEP-1
Latest update: 2002-SEP-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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