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Islamic scholars, study seek review of laws to protect women

By Emeka Anuforo, Abuja
04 November 2016   |   3:16 am
A new report by the Nigeria Research Network (NRN) and the development, Research and Projects Centre, Kano (dRPC) has highlighted that some negative cultural and other practices affecting women persist despite Sharia implementation.
Muslim women

Muslim women

A new report by the Nigeria Research Network (NRN) and the development, Research and Projects Centre, Kano (dRPC) has highlighted that some negative cultural and other practices affecting women persist despite Sharia implementation.

Policy Brief No. 4 of the five-part report which focused on Sharia implementation in Northern Nigeria over 15 years; Impact of Women called for the introduction of legislative reforms that seek to protect the rights of women and children in line with Islamic teachings.

“These reforms should address the current practices that negatively affect the rights of women and children, including regulating the husband’s power of divorce, requiring mandatory consent for marriage, clarifying the grounds for divorce, spelling out the requirements for divorce, spelling out the requirements for Khul and banning hawking by children.”

The report noted how achieving this would require, among other things, positive engagement with Muslim scholars and the Sharia judiciary.

“The states that have not done so should amend their laws to strengthen the penal sanctions against rape and other forms of sexual violence and improve the facilities and skills that are needed for ensuring successful investigation and prosecution of such offences,” human rights lawyer, Prof Mohammed Tabiu, who presented the report, noted.

The report charged the judiciaries of the Sharia states to improve the quality of services provided by Sharia courts.

Professor of African Politics at the University of Oxford, Prof Abdul Raufu Mustapha, noted that the given policy briefs had clear findings and recommendations in different areas of Sharia implementation 15 years later.

His words: “For instance, we asked people, if I could just give one example, in three states what they think about Hisbah, whether it should be disbanded or not. The population that wanted it disbanded in those states was very low. They all wanted Hisbah to continue.

But they also had criticisms about some of the ways Hisbah is carrying on some of its activities. Some felt that they were very high handed. Some felt that Hisbah is doing a good work in providing a platform for conflict resolution and were also providing assistance to the needy.

“So, it is very complex. When we think of Hisbah, we think of the Police going out and harassing people. But much of what they do is actually providing basic services to the poor along with some of the harassments as well.”

He described the implementation of Sharia as but also very problematic.