A 14-year-old girl from Unguwar Yansoro, a village in northern Nigeria, is facing the possibility of the death penalty after she was accused of murdering her 35-year-old husband of two weeks with rat poison.
The Associated Press reports that Wasila Tasi’u, the Nigerian child bride, is on trial for the murder of her 35-year-old husband, Umar Sani, who died after eating food that Tasi’u allegedly laced with rat poison. The young bride is allegedly responsible for the death of not only her husband, but also three others who were eating with Sani that day.
On Wednesday, witnesses told the High Court in Gezawa that Tasi’u killed her husband just two weeks after their April wedding. The prosecution in the case is saying the only justice to be served in this case is the death penalty. However, the child bride’s father is asking for the courts to hear his daughter’s plea.
“We are appealing to the judge to consider Wasilat’s plea.”
Women’s rights activists in the region are calling into question the legality of the whole criminal case, noting the young girl was married against her will.
“She was married to a man that she didn’t love. She protested but her parents forced her to marry him.”
Women’s activists note that Wasila is a victim herself, a victim of systematic abuse endured by millions of girls in the region. Activists say the blend of traditional customs, Islamic law, and Nigeria’s constitutional law poses a challenge when advocating for the rights of young girls in Nigeria. However, the group is hoping to make some strides for women’s rights that would help ensure cases like this are few and far between.
The Girls Not Brides advocacy group notes that child marriage is not uncommon in Nigeria.
“In Nigeria, 39% of girls are married off before their 18th birthday. 16% are married before they turn 15.”
The organization notes that if present trends continue, UNFPA estimates that 4,615,000 of girls will be married as children by 2030 in Nigeria.
Sadly, child brides are not just a problem in Nigeria. In fact, it even happens here in the United States. An FLDS child bride escaped and detailed the abuse she faced under cult leader Warren Jeffs.
The judge has postponed Wasila’s hearing until the end of December.
What do you think of the Wasila case? Should the young girl face the death penalty for killing four people even though she was forced into an unwanted marriage?