Read through archived FRONTLINE/World
conversations around this story, including responses from
How can we find
out more about this woman, and get updates on her [Amina
Amnesty International has a page dedicated to Amina Lawal
and posts updates on her case. The web site is at: http://web.amnesty.org/web/content.nsf/pages/gbr_nigeria.
There is also an online petition you can sign urging the
UN to act on her behalf at http://www.gopetition.com.
Amina has one appeal pending in the sharia courts and then
her case will be brought to the federal Supreme Court, which
could overturn her conviction.
Enitan Doherty-Mason - Gaithersburg, Maryland
Many Nigerian women have remained silent for too long and
have often been side-tracked by issues of ethnicity, tradition,
false perceptions of superiority based on level of education
and often temporary images of wealth (acquired sometimes
through marriage or affiliation with a perceived wealthy
man). I am delighted to see more women speaking out about
the suffering of women as a collective, recognizing that
the pain of one woman is the pain of all women...and ultimately
the pain of a nation. I hope that more Nigerian men will
take the time to listen to their women and to reflect on
what is said, realizing that when women speak out, it is
not to put men down rather it is to lift up the nation with
a goal of improving the quality of life for all.
Whitney Streets - Annandale,
While appalled with the plight of Amina Lawal, what about
the offensive nature of the "Miss Universe" pageant? I too
would be indignant if a bevy of expensively clad, overly
made-up, overfed, and uninformed women were paraded in front
of myself and my starving family. When are women going to
stand united against stereotypes and say "NO" to hypocrisy??
Ray J. Acosta - Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Just a line to let you know that I think "Frontline" is
an awesome program. Please keep up the good work. A few
weeks ago I had gotten just a small piece of info on the
lady in Nigeria that was to be stoned to death for committing
adultery. Thanks to Frontline, my curiosity has been satisfied.
Don't ever feel that these issues are not really important
to more than a few of us.
Gratefully Yours, Ray J. Acosta
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Regarding Amina Lawal, the man you interviewed said her
pregnancy confirmed that she is guilty of adultery. Was
it determined that the father was married? Or is adultery
defined differently according to sharia law?
Sharia law is a subject that is best explained by professionals.
Read what Amina Lawal's attorney, Hauwa
Ibrahim, says about defending her client and sharia
Additionally, check out FRONTLINE/World's
compilation of sites for a closer look at sharia
law, or this article by The
Guardian, which explains the issue of sharia law in
Nigeria or, finally, this discussion
of the finer points of Amina Lawal's case by "Women Living
Under Muslim Laws," an organization designed to provide
"information, solidarity and support for all women whose
lives are shaped, conditioned or governed by laws and
customs said to derive from Islam."
I felt the report on Nigeria had a very specific
agenda. The journalist had a great opportunity to actually
learn and investigate the basis for thought and law from
a perspective opposite from most; however, she insisted
on asking questions that could only be answered in a defensive
manner. What I learned in this report was that butting heads
gets you no where. Talking intellectually about a subject
can teach both sides much more.
Tracy Harris - Charlotte, North
I would also like to know
what I can do to help Amina Lawal. To stone a woman and
not address the man's part in the same act...The other day
I was at a friend's home, he had the football game on. An
ad came on with two women tearing each other's clothes off,
fighting in their skimpy, sexy underwear, and ending up
Last night my friend's 14-year-old
daughter was telling us about her girlfriend who is regularly
beaten by her father, and of two mothers of friends who
are beaten by their husbands, one man is the father, the
other the step-father. Each example is an example of man's
inhumanity to woman, as women we must put an end to this!!!
Faatimah Abdullah - Atlanta, Georgia
As a Muslim woman, I find that society has misconstrued
views of what it is to be a Muslim woman. I am very upset
that the international community picks and chooses what
issues are more important and at what time. Human and civil
rights should be the priority for all people in the international
community. I will continue to fight those who misinterpret
Islam and those that misinterpret the Holy Koran. Woman
and children are just as important under the eyes of God.
We all must take a stand against violence and ignorance--not
just women. I pray the Nigerian government does not stone
any woman, man or child to death. We all need to pray every
day for peace. Running away does nothing for the solution.
And worrying about your image as a country is contradictory
of your beliefs. It solves nothing.
Thank you very much for your comments. We met many Muslim
women in Nigeria who shared your sentiments about the misinterpretations
of Islam and the Koran. They were frustrated by the double
standards applied to women within the legal system and emphasized,
as you pointed out, that the Koran provides equal protection
for men and women. Their hope is that the current sharia
criminal system in Nigeria will be revised, with an emphasis
on moderation and equity.
My thoughts go out to Amina Lawal. To see her with her child
and know that she will die such a horrific death and leave
this child is heart wrenching. Is she dead already as of the
airing of this program? Is there anything one can do to help
stop this barbaric act? I am so saddened by the continuing
suffering of so many women and children, and always so incredulous
that in the name of religion, all three of the monotheisms,
so many are killed, tortured, and exploited.
Jerry, Harris - Eugene, Oregon
Dear Sir (Ms): I watch PBS because I don't like the "newstainment"
of the commercial stations. Your story about North Korea
and Nigeria was not complete. Yes, the political system
in North Korea is awful, and the stoning of a woman in Nigeria
for adultery is inhumane, but I wonder what the people in
those countries think about the everyday occurrence of people
killing whole families by their fathers in America, the
daily lives of so-called street people here, and the thousands
of young people who are murdered every day on the streets
of the United States? Is there any difference in the North
Korean people adoring their leader and the American people
adoring the dollar as God? I would venture to say that there
are millions of people in the world who think that America
is a barbaric society.
Reporter Alexis Bloom
There may indeed be people who think, for instance, that
the death penalty in the United States is inhumane. And
thankfully these issues are much debated. But not much is
known about North Korea or about Nigeria...we're just trying
to provide a little window onto foreign worlds.
Ebi Bozimo - Atlanta, Georgia
I deeply appreciate the facts, balance and candor you exhibited
in the story you presented titled 'The Road North' about
the woman under the sentence of stoning in Northern Nigeria.
I was gratified that you pointed
out that the people of Nigeria are not monolithically manaical
enough to ALL think or believe that women, or indeed anyone,
ought to be stoned to death, for this or any other crime.
All too often, in an effort to categorize and stereotype,
western media and reporters lazily refrain from going behind
the scenes to get the true stories.
Again, you merit praise for the
efforts you made and the considerable personal risk you
undertook. Frontline/World has just added itself to my microscopic
list of must-see tv programs!
This was such an excellent production to watch! Thank you.
Sabella Ogbobode Abidde - Mankato,
It's been a couple of weeks since the Miss World fiasco;
yet, I still cringe at the thought of the reactionary response
that engulfed some parts of Nigeria -- as a result of the
article written by Miss Isioma Daniels in the Thisday Newspaper.
There was nothing sacrilegious about it.
I am a Nigerian, and am still at
a loss for a sensible explanation, or a rationale for the
gruesome event. For whatever reasons, we have become masters
at tarnishing our image before the world community; and
because of the fiasco, we are now a pariah and the laughing
stock of the world community.
In a budding democracy like Nigeria,
journalists, and other writers must be allowed to soar --
not censured, punished or coerced to resign simply because
the government or a section of the country considers their
writings offensive. The carnage that was let loose on the
country because of mere journalistic exercise was totally
uncalled for. I was glad when well meaning Nigerians and
the entire global community forcefully condemned the barbaric
The incessant ethnic and religious
conflicts do not bode well for the country -- a country
that is increasingly slipping towards damnation. Otherwise,
how else could one account for the sorry failures, lapses
and misguided judgments of a country that was once the doyen
of the Black World? It saddens and pains me to think of
what Nigeria might have become - but for all the corruption,
incessant military coups and legions of civilian stooges
and military thugs who paraded themselves as heads-of-state.
Nigeria held so much hope and so
much potential in the period immediately following political
independence; and even today, it is a country that is brimming
with enviable human and natural resources; yet, it cannot
keep its house in order.
Nigeria as a country is gradually
becoming a failed state. Though, not yet Somalia; Liberia;
or the Sierra Leone of recent past, still consider what
has been happening in recent years: stagnant economy and
fetid environmental conditions; general mayhem and increase
in the level of lawlessness and anarchy; unbridled political
assassinations; ubiquitous ethnic, religious and sectional
violence; deep-seated corruption and general malaise; private
and public sector ineptitude; decayed infrastructures; and
an acute lack of vision at all levels of leadership.
Speaking of leadership, I am constantly
reminded of Daniel Etounga-Manguelle's contribution to an
anthology - Culture Matters - that recently read: "In Africa...the
entire social body accepts, as a natural fact, the servitude
imposed by the strongman of the moment. It has been argued
that the underdeveloped are not the people, they are the
leaders. This is both true and false. If African peoples
were not underdeveloped (that is to say, passive, resigned
and cowardly), why would they accept undeveloped leaders...?"
We have the tendency to blame colonialism
and the West for Nigeria, and indeed Africa's problems.
That's nonsense! In as much as I agree that slavery, exploitation,
and colonialism in all its forms is evil, inhumane, sinful
and injurious - we have had time to correct some of the
imbalances and injustices; we have had time to map our future
and our destiny; we've had time to climb the highest mountains.
But instead, we moan and groan and complain and cry and
beg for aids and handouts and crumbs. This is totally unacceptable.
Sabella Abidde Minnesota, USA
Reporter Alexis Bloom
Leslie Soden - Lawrence,
Although Isioma Daniels is certainly in a difficult position,
it's worth noting that the fatwa that was issued against
her has subsequently been retracted. And thankfully, the
Nigerian government and a large proportion of the Islamic
community spoke out against the original issuing of that
Journalistic freedom in Nigeria
is by no means untrammeled, but journalists are allowed
to express dissent. Which is a very healthy sign...a sign
that there is a plurality of voices in Nigeria. Nigeria
does have a great deal of potential - both in terms of
its physical and its human resources. It's a country that
has a lot to offer. We'll all be watching the upcoming
elections with fingers crossed.
This was an excellent journalistic report of something I knew
nothing about. Keep up the good work!!
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