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[Opinion] Adultery and Stoning

Posted September. 26, 2003 23:28,   


A Nigerian court on Thursday spared a woman from being stoned to death by overturning lower courts` conviction for adultery. Human rights groups and women`s advocacy groups worldwide had urged the Nigerian government to intervene in the case of Amina Lawal who was convicted in March 2002 after having a baby outside wedlock. The lower court ruled at that time that ˝execution would be delayed until the baby turned 2 years old.˝ In 12 northern provinces of Nigeria, a country heavily populated by Muslims, Islam codes were restored in 1999 following the collapse of the military dictatorship.

The man suspected of having affair with the woman had been acquitted due to the `lack of evidence.` According to the Islam rules that stipulate a death by stoning for any unmarried women who gets pregnant, four witnesses are need to make an adultery case against a man. Despite the ruling on Thursday, however, the mother will not likely find a resting place in her home country. Stones and fists have been a convenient tool of delivering justice in a feudal society.

The Bible tells a story about a women accused of adultery in the Gospel of John. Jewish scholars brought the woman before Jesus and said, ˝Tell us what we should do to this women. Moses` Law says that a women who committed adultery must be put to death by stoning.˝ As Jesus wrote something on the ground instead of replying to their question, they asked him again to give them an answer. ˝If you believe you are not a sinner, you can throw stones at the woman,˝ he answered this time. Then, the Jews began to leave the place. When people were all gone, Jesus told the woman, ˝Do not commit a sin again,˝ instead of punishing her for her wrongdoing.

What if the same thing would happen in present-day Korea. The so-called `love hotels` are lined beside a primary school, and the hit movie `A Good Lawyer`s Wife` talks about a story of one cheating family – the mother-in-law and a high school student, as well as the man and the wife, are all engaged in adultery. Then, who will try to punish a woman for adultery? And women will not be easily caught, either. There is a saying, `My affair is romance and yours is adultery.` This is why the Jews who left the scene feeling the pang of conscience are considered more decent. If stones are built around love hotels according to the Islamic law, there will be no stone left in this country.

Oh Myeong-cheol, Editorial Writer, oscar@donga.com