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Haushaltsstrategien, Frauen und Sharia-Gerichtshöfe in Sokoto/Nordnigeria

Fatima L. Adamu

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The central focus of this paper is the expansion of the politics within the household to the public sphere of Shariah courts, particularly, the role of women in the process. Islam plays an important role in shaping household relations in many Muslim societies. However, women as social actors do respond to and negotiate over these relations and the process and arena for the negotiations may extend beyond the household. It is the roles of Muslim women as actors (both as heroines and victims) in the household politics that is the concern of this paper using the Shariah courts as a point of reference. Shariah courts are seen as one of the agents of patriarchal system designed to maintain and perpetuate the existing gender relations. The role of Shariah courts as agents of patriarchal system becomes more relevant with the expansion of Shariah legal system in Northern Nigeria. Shari’ah courts have been the most relevant legal system for the Hausa Muslim women. Issues relevant to women such as marital relations, divorce, child issues are all settled in the Shari’ah courts. What is the role of women in the politics within the household and in the Courts? How is politics within the household affecting Muslim women’s utilisation of Shari’ah courts? How would they be affected by the recent expansion of Shariah legal system in the North? Data for this paper is drawn from Court marital records of between 1988 and 1998 as well as observation of court proceedings during the collection of the court records. It was part of a study that was carried out in Sokoto between December 1998 and 1999 before the expansion of Shariah legal system in the state and it was aimed at analysing household politics in period of economic crisis which involved interviewing and observing married female and male members of some sampled households.