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Nigerian lawmakers vote down bill protecting women, citing Bible, Sharia law

Nigerian lawmakers vote down bill protecting women, citing Bible, Sharia law

Quartz Africa reports that a bill designed to protect women against physical violence and discrimination was voted down in Nigeria this week, with opposition citing religious reasons from the Bible and Sharia law.

Predictably, the rejection of the bill has resulted in uproar on social media with Nigerians expressing shock and disbelief that the bill, widely regarded as necessary and forward-thinking, was turned down especially among a group of lawmakers believed to be the best collection in years.

The law would have protected women’s safety, education and property in a country where sexual violence as well as discrimination in fields including education and politics is prevalent, and where it’s been shown that increased education for both genders has resulted in better social conditions for everyone:

As a whole, the bill focuses on eliminating discrimination based on gender in the fields of politics, education and employment. It also prohibits violence—domestic and sexual—against women.

…In today’s Nigeria, despite the increased literacy rates which have accompanied urbanization and economic growth, gender equality remains an ideal that is sought after more than it is an everyday reality. For example, job advertisements for seemingly gender-neutral roles often specify that male candidates are preferred. Feminism is a raging topic that elicits more conflict than compromise and, perhaps worst of all, sexual violence and rape levels remain shockingly high.

…Crucially, the bill was also firm on prohibition of domestic and sexual violence against women and instituting 18 as the minimum legal age for marriage. This is in a bid to tackle a notorious prominence of child brides in Nigeria where, according to UNICEF, 43% of girls are said to be married off before they turn 18. To implement its provisions, a Gender and Equal Opportunities Commission was to be created.



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Cynthia Katsarelis

For the record, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon (Secretary General of the Anglican Communion and a Nigerian) is here in NY and spoke at Episcopal Church Center yesterday as part of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. He described that Nigerian vote as a very bad thing (and told us it was the 3rd time it was voted down). In fact, he said that objections to women’s equality by religious leaders is a misinterpretation of Scripture. Given that he leans towards the fundamentalist side of interpreting Scripture, this was a powerful statement. His sermon today was on the Galatians 3:28 reading and he said we were all spiritually equal before God. He has been very supportive of women. His “how to” empower women and address the problems is perhaps not the most effective, but his heart is in the right place for women’s equality and justice.

Jerry Rankin

Thank you for this bit of clarification. Still, it seems that Christianity and Isalm are in a race to the bottom in many African countries, bringing a pox on both our houses.

Carolyn Peet

I can understand the Bible, but what part of Sharia law could they have referenced in support of their position?

Noel Dass

The practical application of Sharia as I see it in Malaysia and many other countries that practice versions of it rarely ever seen equitable or just for women.

Doug Simpson

How surprising … :-/

Margaret Sjoholm-Franks

Let me guess…the Nigerian Anglican bishops teamed up with the Imans to keep women subjugated….

Paul Woodrum

And Anglican bishops in Nigeria worry about marriage equality in America? Sounds like they have enough to deal with in their own province. Pray the mote and beam virus will be brought under control.

Meanwhile, in the South Sudan where a civil war that “Has led government forces to burn villages, kill unarmed farmers, castrate boys, rape women and girls, and pillage hospitals” (NY Times, March 13), the Anglican bishop thinks TEC dollars are too tainted by a progressive stance on marriage and possibly, in part, because of resentment over the failed government the United States helped install in one of the world’s newest and poorest countries.

In all such instances where Satan works his wiles, I pray we will neither retreat on compassion for our own socially disenfranchised nor, because of hurt feelings, abandon those who choose for now to walk alone.

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