While this behavior is not sanctioned by anything in Islam, it is a consequence of the dehumanization of women in Islamic law and custom. From The Independent, with thanks to Paolo:
Noura Abdurrahi’s four children were crying from hunger, and she knew there was food in the house. But her husband, Musa, had locked it away, out of her reach, when he had left to search for work the previous week.
What happened to Noura at a village near Zinder is replicated through much of the stricken communities of Niger. In the midst of starvation and disease, many men in rural areas are determined to control the meagre supplies, seemingly oblivious to the suffering of their families.
So acute is the problem that Unicef and international charities have launched urgent projects focusing exclusively on women. It is, they say, a far more certain way of ensuring the children and the elderly – the most vulnerable – get at least the very minimum needed for survival.
This extraordinary situation appears to be peculiar to Niger. Neighbouring countries caught up in the crisis caused by droughts and plagues of locusts – Mali, Mauritania and Burkina – are also predominantly Muslim with patriarchal cultures. Yet there, aid workers say, women are not sidelined to anything like the same degree.
In some villages, men have stopped women from having contact with Unicef officials, insisting that only they were entitled to speak for the community. There have also been repeated cases of men selling food given as aid, or passing it on to male members of extended families.
“We have millet and sorghum at the back of our hut, but we are not allowed to get it,” 33-year-old Noura said. “The room was bolted by my husband when he went to Nigeria to find a job and his father and brothers have the key. They say it is up to me to feed my children, but that is not easy. A lot of families round here are in the same situation. There is nothing we can do.”