This article epitomizes the willful ignorance and self-imposed blindness of the British intelligentsia regarding Islam. The BBC says below that “men in Niger are allowed to have four wives under a local interpretation of Islamic law.” A local interpretation of Islamic law? Oh, so the Qur’an is local to Niger, now? The Qur’an says: “And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline to injustice.” (4:3)
So the idea that a man can have as many as four wives is not some “local interpretation of Islamic law” that they dreamed up in Niger, but is stated in what Muslims believe to be the word of Allah himself. The BBC doesn’t want to acknowledge that, because then it would have to confront unpleasant questions about Muslims in the UK — and it’s easier to condemn “Islamophobia” and pretend that all is well.
Meanwhile, these “fifth wives” appear to be those referred to in this same Qur’an passage as “those your right hand possesses.” Thus there is nothing illegal about such arrangements in Islamic law, but under pressure from human rights and anti-slavery groups, Niger finally banned slavery in 2003, and now, eleven years later, is finally getting around to prosecuting someone for it.
However, as this article notes, “thousands of people still live in subjugation,” so there are going to have to be a lot more prosecutions before Niger can truly be said to be serious about stopping slavery. And because slavery is sanctioned in Islam, it is unlikely that Niger is ever going to be all that serious about stopping the practice.
“Niger sees first slavery conviction over ‘fifth wife,'” BBC, May 28, 2014 (thanks to John):
A man has been sentenced to four years in jail in Niger in the first ever conviction for slavery in the country.
The pressure group Anti-Slavery International told the BBC the 63-year-old man was convicted of having what is known as a “fifth wife”.
Men in Niger are allowed to have four wives under a local interpretation of Islamic law.
With a “fifth wife”, no marriage takes place and the woman is treated solely as property.
Niger officially banned slavery in 2003 but anti-slavery organisations say thousands of people still live in subjugation.
The conviction took place in the town of Birnin Konni in south-west Niger, close to the border with Nigeria.
Anti-Slavery International says “fifth wives” are often girls of slave descent sold to wealthy men who view the purchase of young women as a sign of prestige.
The women face a lifetime of physical and psychological abuse and forced labour, the group says.
The case was taken to court by Anti-Slavery’s partners in Niger, Timidria.
Sarah Mathewson, Africa Programme Co-ordinator at Anti-Slavery International, said it was “incredible” to achieve a conviction.
“It’s been over 10 years since the law against slavery was passed in Niger and we’ve worked since then to bring perpetrators of slavery to justice,” she said.
“We hope that this judgment will serve as a catalyst for more prosecutions, as we are pursuing many other cases before the courts.”
In a landmark case in 2008, the West African regional body Ecowas found Niger’s government guilty of failing to protect a woman from slavery. It ordered the government to pay compensation to the victim.