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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

The Legal and Religious Status of Women in Nigerian Society

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Hauwa Ibrahim
Harvard Divinity School

Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Time: 12:00-1:15 PM
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road

Abstract: What are the practical and theoretical challenges to protecting women’s rights under Shariah Law in Northern Nigeria? Can the tensions between the secular rule of law and the "new Shariah" in Nigeria be reconciled? Drawing from her experience as a lead attorney with a team devoted to the cause of human rights for women in Nigeria, Ibrahim will speak about her pursuit of justice for her clients and the challenges of defending women under the severe sentences stipulated by Nigerian Shariah Courts.

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Hauwa Ibrahim is a Visiting Lecturer on Women's Studies and Islamic Law at Harvard Divinity School and is currently a fellow at both the Human Rights Program and the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard University. She is also a senior partner at Aries Law Firm. Working as a lead attorney with a team devoted to the cause of human rights for women in Nigeria, she has won a number of precedent-setting cases before Islamic Sharia courts. Ibrahim has been a visiting professor at Saint Louis University School of Law and Stonehill College, as well as a World Fellow at Yale University. In 2005, she was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament, which honors individuals or organizations for their efforts on behalf of human rights and freedoms. She was cited for her work as defense counsel in approximately 50 cases that were brought under the aegis of Sharia law, many of which involved women sentenced to death by stoning. Ibrahim earned an LLB and a masters in international law and diplomacy from the University of Jos in Nigeria; a BL for legal practice from Nigeria Law School; and a masters of law degree in international studies at American University’s Washington College of Law.

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In the News:

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"The approach of elections next month in Nigeria has raised hopes and apprehension in almost equal measure," writes Peter M. Lewis of Johns Hopkins University ("Nigeria: Politics at a Pivotal Moment," AllAfrica.com, 14 March 2011). On Wednesday, March 23, Hauwa Ibrahim spoke about the practical and theoretical challenges to protecting women's rights under Shariah Law in Northern Nigeria. Click here to listen to an audio recording of her talk.