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Biography of Hauwa IBRAHIM

Nigeria > Professionals : Hauwa IBRAHIM

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Biography :

Hauwa Ibrahim born in 1967, is a Nigerian  Human Rights lawyer.She  received the Sakharov Prize in 2005. ,The Prize was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament as a means to honour individuals or organisations who have dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights and freedom of thought. As of 2010, the prize is accompanied by a monetary award of €50,000.

Amputation of a hand as a punishment for theft? Stoning to death for adultery? Such practices seem to belong to the Middle Ages. Well, not in Northern Nigeria where an extreme form of Islamic Sharia law is still applied. Hauwa Ibrahim is one of the few women lawyers fighting for human rights and against religious fundamentalism in the country. Through her work, she has defended several cases involving the death penalty or cruel punishment. She is also a keen supporter of education, which she sees a way of empowering women and the best defence for those facing the greatest deprivation.

 She serves as a consultant to many human rights and non- governmental organizations. Since 1999, Ms. Ibrahim has served as defense counsel in 47 cases implicating the Sharia law, many of which have involved women accused of adultery and subject to death by stoning. Prior to launching her practice in 1999, she was a prosecutor in the Ministry of Justice in Bauchi State. She is one of only a few woman lawyers practicing in northern Nigeria.

Hauwa Ibrahim was propelled into the media and international limelight while representing Safiya Hussaini.
Although alleging that her pregnancy had resulted from rape, Ms. Hussaini was convicted of adultery and
sentenced to death by stoning on October 9, 2001. Pursuant to the Sharia Penal Code, which several northern states in Nigeria have adopted, pregnancy outside of marriage constitutes sufficient evidence for a woman to be convicted of adultery. Ms. Ibrahim and her team obtained an acquittal based upon substantive and procedural due process arguments, sparing the young mother's life.

Hauwa Ibrahim comes from a small village in Northern Nigeria, Gombe. She was born into a culture that did not encourage schooling for girls beyond elementary school, but her mother permitted Ms. Ibrahim's older sister to attend high school. Through sheer persistence and the gracious support of others, Ms. Ibrahim attended high school, a teachers college for women, the local university in Jos, and continued to law school.

Last update : 05/06/2011

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