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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Zina' and Transgressive Heterosexuality in Northern Nigeria
Author:Pereira, CharmaineISNI
Periodical:Feminist Africa
Geographic terms:Nigeria
Northern Nigeria
Subjects:Islamic law
extramarital sexuality
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Religion and Witchcraft
Women's Issues
Cultural Roles
Law, Legal Issues, and Human Rights
External link:https://feministafrica.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/fa_5_feature_article_3.pdf
Abstract:'Zina' is an Arabic word meaning extra-marital sex and is regarded as a criminal offence under sharia law. In this article the author examines the legal and political contexts for the particular form which the sharia has taken in northern Nigeria. Since colonial times Muslim personal law has prevailed for the majority of the population. This highlights the distinction between the principle and the practice, in this case between the sharia and prevailing Hausa sexual culture. In northern Nigeria since the end of the twentieth century, there has been a tendency to attempt to formalize 'hudud' (fixed penalities for criminal offences under sharia), and concomitantly there has been a tendency to launch a witch hunt against women and their 'deviant' sexuality. This article draws on a larger study examining the case of Amina Lawal, accused of 'zina' in January 2002, setting it against the backdrop of neo-fundamentalist project(s) operating in northern Nigeria. The article attempts to distinguish between levels and understandings of the legal formulation of 'zina' and the common sense interpretation and accepted cultural practice, set in the specific contexts, social categories, and power relationships texturing heterosexual culture. It reveals that the recent tendencies in sharia law are a radical break with the prevailing culture, embodied in such traditional practices as 'tsarance' and 'kawance', in the general area. With the criminalization of 'zina', the majority of those charged have been women living in poverty. Wealthy, influential men who flagrantly flout the rules are above the law. Hence the implementation of the law is a glaring injustice. Bibliogr., notes. [ASC Leiden abstract]