Brunei on Wednesday introduced harsh new sharia laws — including death by stoning for adultery and gay sex — despite a storm of global criticism from rights groups.
Although most Muslim nations incorporate elements of sharia law in their legal systems, very few carry out the harsher punishments — known as hudud — which even Muslim scholars disagree on.
Here are some facts about sharia law and how it is interpreted around the world:
Sharia is a religious law forming part of the Islamic faith derived from the Koran and the hadiths — the words or actions of the prophet Mohammed.
The manner of its application in modern times has been a subject of dispute between conservative and liberal Muslims, and it remains a contested topic around the world.
Some aspects have been widely accepted — such as how it applies to banking — with even Western companies introducing Islamic finance products to attract Muslim customers.
Hudud, which means “boundaries” in Arabic, is the punishment meted out for sins such as adultery, rape, homosexuality, theft and murder.
Extreme punishments are rarely carried out as many offences must be proved by a confession or by having been witnessed by several adult Muslim males.
Sharia is the basis for all Saudi law and until fairly recently extreme hudud punishments carried out in public were common.
Homosexual acts are not only illegal but punishable by execution — although the usual penalty has been limited to flogging and imprisonment.
Beheadings and amputations by sword were usually carried out on Fridays, before midday prayers. In extreme cases, such as the rape of a child, the condemned man is sometimes ordered crucified after execution.
The law also allows for literal eye-for-an-eye punishment, known as “qisas“, in cases of personal injury.
The family of a murder victim can pardon a condemned person — often in exchange for blood money.
Afghanistan’s constitution is based on Islamic law but how that is interpreted has a complex history influenced by local custom and tribal traditions.
The Taliban followed a brutal interpretation of Sharia law during their rule from 1996-2001.
For instance, they confined women to their homes, only allowing them outside with a male escort and hidden beneath a burqa.
behaviour punishments were widely practiced all over the country.
The militants now control more territory in Afghanistan than any time since 2001, and again are imposing their strict interpretation of Sharia, although they have also recently indicated they could loosen some of their strictest interpretations if they return to power.
Indonesia’s conservative Aceh is the only province in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country that imposes Islamic law.
Public flogging is common for a range of offenses in the region at the tip of Sumatra island, including gambling, drinking alcohol, adultery and having gay sex.
Despite calls for it to end, the practice has wide support among Aceh’s mostly Muslim population.
Aceh adopted religious law after it was granted special autonomy in 2001, an attempt by the central government to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.
While Indonesia has the death penalty, the government last year warned that Aceh’s plan to usher in beheading as a punishment for murder was banned under existing national laws.
Sudan adopted sharia law in 1983 but since then has implemented it randomly, activists say.
Death by stoning remains a judicial punishment but has not been implemented in decades — although activists claim that hundreds of women are flogged every year for “immoral behaviour” under the criminal code.
In recent weeks several women protesters were sentenced to flogging for participating in protests against President Omar al-Bashir’s rule, but an appeals court overturned the sentence.
In 1979, military dictator Zia ul Haq introduced the widely-criticised Hudood Ordinances, part of a sweeping Islamisation of Pakistan.
Sharia courts implementing the laws ran parallel to the mainstream British-influenced Pakistan Penal Code, and covered adultery, false accusations in court, property crimes and prohibition of drugs and alcohol.
Women were not allowed to testify in the most severe cases, involving stoning or amputations, and the laws on rape or adultery required four adult Muslim males of good character to testify to the act.
In 2006, MPs overwhelmingly approved the Women Protection Law, voting that rape and adultery cases should no longer be heard under the harsh religious system, but in the mainstream courts.
Rulings in sharia courts can also now be appealed in the mainstream courts.
Some 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states have extended Sharia to criminal matters and courts can order amputations — although few have been carried out.
The rest of Nigeria has a mixed legal system of English common and traditional law.
Flogging is still used in Qatar as a punishment for alcohol consumption by Muslims or illicit sexual relations. The punishment for adultery is 100 lashes.
Adultery is punishable by death when a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man are involved.
Although not a country, under its “caliphate”, declared vanquished on March 23, the Islamic State group ran its own courts and implemented its brutal interpretation of Islam in areas it controlled in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.
It punished alleged crimes including theft, alcohol consumption, adultery, and homosexuality.
The extremist group carried out beheadings, stoning and amputation, and threw men suspected of being homosexual off buildings.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.