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Fri, 03.22.2002

African Woman Sentenced to Die by Stoning

Amina Lawaland and child

*On this date in 2002, a Black Nigerian woman convicted of adultery was sentenced to death by stoning.

Amina Lawal Kurami, a divorced woman from Katsina State, Nigeria, was sentenced after giving birth outside of marriage. Sharia courts in the northern Muslim states passed the sentence on the day the federal minister of justice condemned the harsh punishment imposed. On August 19, 2002, an Islamic court in Nigeria upheld her sentence against the government's opinion that the death penalty for adultery is unconstitutional. This judgment has paved the way for a fight with the federal courts on the authority of the Islamic law applied in northern states, an issue that has already led to thousands of deaths in communal riots.

The Nigerian Islamic high court in Funtua, Katsina state, rejected Lawal’s argument that her conviction was invalid because the child born, as a result of the liaison, was conceived before Sharia law took effect in Katsina. Her lawyers added that the divorced mother-of-three had not been legally represented at the original trial before a village court in March and that she did not know she might be condemned to death. Lawal, clutching her eight-month-old daughter, wept at the ruling; dozens of spectators cheered and shouted, "God is great.” The court ruled that she cannot be executed until she has finished breastfeeding her baby daughter, Wasila, which the judge said would not be before January 2004.

Lawal is not the first woman sentenced to death for alleged adultery. Safiya Hussaini, convicted in similar circumstances last year, won an appeal because she had sex out of wedlock before Sharia law took effect. However, a single teenage mother was given 100 lashes early last year for adultery, even though she argued that three men raped her.

A year later, she was acquitted and avoided execution.



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