Atta20-4[1]Boko Haram took over 250 Nigerian school girls simply because they could, says Nigerian author and playwright Sefi Atta in an op-ed piece for Time. She blames the group’s brazenness on sharia laws.

Sharia law – a group of acceptable Islamic moral codes and laws according to Allah  – is a state right and applies mainly to Nigerian civil cases, but it has been adopted by nine northern Nigerian states to include criminal cases. Atta writes it’s especially unfavorable toward women, imposing punishments such as floggings, hand amputations, and stonings.

Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, declares the group is merely following Allah’s order. But kidnapping is a criminal offense that should’ve been handled by state authorities and wasn’t. Atta points out how states are quick to prosecute women for adultery and other sharia-related crimes, yet incredibly slow to respond when the girls are victims of crimes.

She finally argues that adopting sharia laws creates a legal climate where terrorists like Boko Haram believes they have the right to do what they want with women without prosecution.

Read Sefi Atta’s piece in its entirety here.




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  • Anthony

    Ms. Atta speaks the truth. There is no way that Boko Haram could do what they have done if there was no large foundation of support for them.

    • tigerthelion

      i think this is a lot more than sharia law and women. the world now know about the 200+ kidnapped school girls in nigeria and as terrible as that is, it pale in comparison to what the bokom haram has been doing all along. they’ve been killing thousands: http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/02/19/nigeria-violence-idINDEEA1I0II20140219 the issue is lack of law enforcement on the part of the government and that’s what needs to be addressed. the LRA is doing similar things and they’re christians. we can’t make excuses for boko haram by hidding them behind sharia law. they’re a criminal organization and need to be treated as such.

  • IO505

    It’s like what I said in that other article about how culture plays into terrorism against women. When you nurse a culture (or cultural practices) wherein women are denied rights that will enhance their agency or are treated as chattel, it makes it all the more likely that men will feel free to wreak havoc on their lives. Girls have been suffering as a result of these misogynistic laws/practices long before boko haram began its reign of terror, and they will continue to suffer after boko haram is gone (which is hopefully very soon) if these laws are not struck down and societal view of women don’t change.

  • Lisss

    One of my favorite african authors along with Ms. Adichie!!! And she is unfortunately very correct. I still have hope for these young girls.

  • GeekMommaRants

    Sharia Law and it’s institutional hatred of humans is the problem here. Religioins can not accept liberty, freedom or human rights. This is a backward facing theology as most are. The future for these folks looks like the distant past.