Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)
For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria
Newspaper of the DSM
162, Ipaja Road, Lagos.
P.O.Box 2225, Agege, Lagos.
27 February 2002
DON’T KILL SAFIYAT,
SET HER FREE NOW!
The Women Section of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), the Nigerian section of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), calls for the quashing of the death sentence by stoning passed by a Shariah Court in Gwadabawa, Sokoto State, Nigeria, on Mrs. Safiyat Hussain, a 35 year old woman and nursing mother, allegedly for committing adultery.
The judgment was delivered in October 2001 but the execution is yet to be carried out because Safiyat appealed against it. A Shariah appeal court will continue the hearing of her appeal on 18th March 2002.
Safiyat’s defence was that she was raped by Yakubu Muazu, a man who lived in the same village. Both of them were actually arraigned before the Shariah court. But Muazu was acquitted by the court on the ground that no witness testified to confirm that he had any sexual relationship with Safiya while the shariah law requires at least four witnesses before any suspect can be convicted for adultery.
In contrast, the only evidence upon which the court convicted Safiyat was her pregnancy which the judge said was a product of an illicit sexual relationship as she was not married at the time.
The women section of DSM strongly opposes the attempt to deprive Safiyat of her life on the basis of an archaic, medieval and tyrannical law with innate bias and in-built discrimination against women. Her plight graphically reveals the horrendous and oppressive conditions under which women live in many parts of Nigeria either as a girl-child, a single parent, a mother, a wife or a widow. As undemocratic as many parts of the current 1999 Nigerian Constitution are, it still forbids discrimination on the basis of gender. But in reality, women still contend with myriads of discriminations in the areas of education, employment, wages, marriage and so on.
The discrimination against and oppression of women has particularly become aggravated in those parts of Nigeria, such as Sokoto State, which have introduced strict Islamic Shariah law in the past two years. During this period, not a single man has been convicted for the so-called adultery. Does it mean that a woman can commit the so-called adultery alone?
However, the shariah law does not only discriminate against women but the poor working people in general. Since the introduction of this law, several poor, poverty-stricken peasants have had their limbs amputated and disfigured for life on the simple allegation that they stole livestock such as cattle, goats or hen. Many ordinary workers and traders have been flogged and humiliated in public simply for drinking or selling alcohol. In contrast, the capitalist politicians and top civil servants who enacted the shariah law continue to get away with brazen acts of fraud and the looting of several millions of naira from public treasury.
DSM believes that Safiyat should be freed because she is a victim of rape. However, even if she had not been raped, the women section of DSM would still oppose any attempt to convict her for committing a so-called adultery. We believe that women, like men, should have the right to enter into voluntary marital and sexual relationships. Therefore, we call for the acquittal of Safiyat Hussain. We demand for the repeal of all legislations and traditions that discriminates against women and demean ordinary working people.
We call on workers, students, trade unionists and human rights activists all over the world to join the campaign to secure freedom for Safiyat and save her from state killing. As the Shariah appeal court hears her appeal on 18th March 2002, more pressure needs to be put on the governments of Sokoto State and Nigeria. Send protest letters today to:
The Governor Of Sokoto State
Sokoto State, Nigeria.
President Olusegun Obasanjo
Aso Rock, Abuja,
Federal Capital Territory,
Secretary, Women Section, Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)