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Nigerian Prostitutes Paid To Quit

February 6, 2000

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) _ A state that recently enacted Islamic law is offering to pay $250 to every prostitute willing to give up her trade and get married.

The payments, which have so far been accepted by 27 ex-prostitutes, are designed to help the women set up small businesses, said Karima Ahmed Sani, the wife of Zamfara state governor Ahmed Sani, who was elected on a campaign to enact Sharia, or Islamic law.

Nigerian newspapers have reported that dozens of prostitutes have already fled the state, fearing prosecution.

Mrs. Sani said the northern state was also trying to improve education for girls, many of whom are not sent to school by their families.

Although Sani signed two bills on January 27 making Zamfara the first Nigerian state to adopt Sharia, some of its aspects were adopted months ago.

Women-only taxis have been operating in Zamfara since last year and most schools now separate boys and girls. Nearly all bars have been closed and almost every store has been forced to stop selling alcohol.

Zamfara state authorities have repeatedly assured the Christian community that Sharia will only apply to Muslims. But they also have said schools and public transportation eventually will be completely segregated by gender.

A number of other states in Nigeria’s largely Muslim north are considering following suit.

Nigeria, a country of 120 million people, is sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines. Muslims and Christians each make up about one-third of Nigeria’s population.

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