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International News Archive
March 14 - March 20, 2002

 

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This page contains news for the period March 14 through March 20, 2002.

 

 

<<   March 2002  >>

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Monday, March 18, 2002

 

Nigerian court to address adultery case today

 

A story released today by the Daily Trust reports that Nigerian resident Safiya Hussaini, sentenced to death by stoning last year for committing adultery by a Sharia court will know the outcome of her appeal at the Sharia appellate court in Sokoto today.

The 35-year-old woman was found guilty of adultery by an Islamic court in Sokoto last October after giving birth to a child while unmarried. She later appealed against the court ruling.

Lawyers familiar with the Islamic legal system in Sokoto said that there were three possible scenarios for the outcome of today's hearing.

The court could discharge the case and acquit Hussaini, or it could ask the original court to re-try the case on the basis of the new evidence, or it could re-affirm the conviction and sentence.

Even if the conviction and sentence are confirmed, the lawyers say, there are two further possibilities for appeal, at a Higher Appeal Court and at the Nigerian Supreme Court, after which the Sokoto State governor could still grant clemency.

Meanwhile, there are mounting pressure from the international community for the Federal Government to intervene in the matter.

On Saturday, European Union leaders urged the Federal Government not to carry out the death-by-stoning sentence on Safiya Hussaini.

The EU leaders said at the end of a two-day summit in Barcelona, that they were "deeply concerned" at the sentence.

"We urge the Nigerian authorities to fully respect human rights and human dignity with particular reference to women," the EU leaders said.

 

Thursday, March 14, 2002

 

Divorce rate in China climbing

 

A story released today by the Australian reports that in China, between 1990 and 2000, the number of couples who divorced rose by more than 50 percent, to 1.21 million couples. The national rate of 10 percent is low, compared with international standards, but it rises to 20 percent in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Such is the trend that Chinese in their 30s have only half-jokingly swapped the traditional greeting of "Chifan le ma?" (Have you eaten?) for "Hai mei li ne?" (Have you divorced yet?).

Amendments to China's Marriage Law, to encourage a more mature attitude to wedlock and give people greater control over their lives, appear to be behind the divorce rate rise.

As long as both parties to a marriage agree on fundamental issues, such as the division of assets and custody of offspring, divorce can be rubber-stamped through the Chinese bureaucracy within a day.

For the guardians of modern Chinese morals, the soaring divorce rate is not an indication that the traditional family unit is breaking down. Defensively, the Ministry of Civil Affairs believes it is evidence that Chinese people are showing a growing interest in the quality of marriage, rather than regarding the legal union in purely pragmatic terms.

"Divorce is not a bad thing. It gives couples a chance to rectify the mistake if they realize that the marriage is a mismatch," said Xu Anqi, a marriage researcher at Shanghai's Academy of Social Sciences.

As taboos against divorce break down, researchers such as Ms. Xu are starting to question traditional pressures for keeping a marriage together.

She told recently in an interview that many children of divorced parents were relieved when their parents finally called an end to an unhappy marriage, and that up to 15 percent of children from broken homes showed improvement in school performance and social behavior.

 

 

 

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