Working within Nigeria's Sharia Courts (Worksheet)

Looking out onto irrigated fields, Nigeria. CREDIT: World Bank

Until 1999, Muslim laws in Nigeria applied primarily to civil matters. But since the end of military rule in 1999, nine of Nigeria’s 36 states have extended Sharia laws to criminal matters, with an additional three states applying it to areas with a large Muslim population. The implementation of Sharia penal codes has raised a number of concerns among human rights and women’s rights activists inside and outside Nigeria who argue that these laws adversely affect women.

In 2003, Human Rights Dialogue spoke with Ayesha Imam about the work of the Nigerian organization BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights in protecting women's rights in Nigeria within the context of Sharia law.

Excerpts from the interview are found on the right sidebar that relate to the creation and enforcement of the Sharia law system in Nigeria, along with an arguement that it is best for women's groups to work within this court system. These excerpts have been chosen as they relate closely to topics from the AP Comparative Government and Politics curriculum. For the full interview and to learn more about BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights, please click here

For a rebuttal to Imam's argument that women's groups should work within the Sharia court system, please read Working within Sharia Takes You Only So Far and Small Victories, but the War Rages On.

This activity works well in a comparative government or political science class.