March 8 was the international women’s day and, all week, there have been activities and campaigns for gender equality and parity. These campaigns and many stories told by women have shown how institutionalised and ingrained sexism is in our society.
Global citizen.org compiled a list of 10 rather sexist laws and yes, Nigeria makes the cut.
Here they are:
1) In Nigeria, the penal code of the north gives a husband the right to beat his wife as a corrective measure, so long as he does not cause her grievous bodily harm. The law is, however, silent on what issues need correction or what constitutes “grievous” bodily harm.
2) In Singapore and India, no such thing as marital rape: a woman MUST have sex with her husband. There is no such thing as non-consensual sex within marriage and it is not a criminal offence as long as the wife is above a certain age – 15 years old in India, and 13 in Singapore. In Yemen, there is no lower age limit to define rape in marriage.
3) In Tanzania, child marriage is legal! The marriage acts allow a young girl of 15 to be married with her parents’ consent. The legal age for boys, however, is 18. But it is not just Tanzania. In Nigeria, according to the Sharia law guiding Muslims in some northern states, a girl is deemed to be of age once married. We see the case of a senator, Ahmed Yerima, who married two young girls both below 15 years.
4) Women in countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Monaco are effectively second-class citizens. They cannot pass on their citizenship to their children. If a woman is married to a foreigner, her children are denied basic rights to healthcare and education.
5) In Lebanon, a man is free from prosecution if he marries the person whom he rapes or kidnaps. And in Malta, hear this: “If the offender, after abducting a person, shall marry such person, he shall not be liable to prosecution, except on the complaint of the party whose consent, according to the civil laws, would be required for the marriage.”
6) As regards inheritance laws, in Tunisia, a 1956 law ensures that a male children inherits twice as much property that the female child. “Where there are any sons, the male inherits twice as much as the female.” The worth of a female child huh? In the Britain, a family’s estate must be passed down to the eldest son, no matter how many older daughters.
7) A man in Cameroon can legally stop his wife from taking a job. This happens in many other countries, including Nigeria. If a man thinks a job is inappropriate for his wife, he can stop her even if it the higher source of income.
8) It is no news that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. If you didn’t know, now you do!
9) In countries like Pakistan and Iran, a woman’s voice is half as valuable as that of a man. In the courts, evidence from two women is required alongside only one testimony from a man.
10) In Egypt, the crime for murder is 20 years, the penalty for murdering a woman caught “engaging in an illegitimate sexual act and killing or injuring them unintentionally” is to “serve a minimum of two years in prison”.