Based on a study by the Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), a MacArthur grantee, several government and Muslim leaders in northwestern Nigeria have agreed to principles that could advance discussions about women’s rights under Sharia’h law, including consent to marriage. The study examined the extent to which cultural practices harmful to women had become embedded in Sharia’h law, and compared interpretations of the law in Nigeria to those of other Muslim societies. Results of the study were discussed at a conference of leaders from several northwestern states in August, which resulted in the principles. In addition to supporting a woman’s consent to marriage, the resolutions also outlined the financial responsibilities of divorced men toward their children and ex-wives and encouraged HIV/AIDS screenings for couples before marriage. WRAPA works to increase access for justice for women across all three legal systems in Nigeria — common, traditional, and Sharia’h law. The organization has represented women in high-profile cases that involved harsh punishments under Sharia’h law.

Human Rights & International Justice, Africa, Human Rights, Nigeria, Research