Ringing the alarm about the slow pace of family law reform — Global issues

Teenagers in Gujara City, Rautahat District, Nepal perform a skit on child marriage as part of the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Program on Ending Child Marriage. Photo: UNICEF/Kiran Panday
  • Idea by Hyshyama Hamin (Colombo, Sri Lanka)
  • Associated Press Service

However, a local women’s rights group reported the case to national child protection agencies, as child marriage is still legal under the Islamic Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA). country, so very little can be done.

Nine months later, the girl was divorced by her husband in a court headed by a Quazi (Muslim judge) under a provision in the MMDA that allowed him to unilaterally divorce at will and without reason.

Many countries, especially in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Africa, continue to have limited civil, religious or customary laws and practices regarding marriage and family matters. rights of women and girls.

An alarming finding in a new report,’Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals: A Gender Overview 2022‘, released by UN Women and the UN Statistics Office, indicates that at the current rate of progress, it could take up to 286 years to close the gap in legal protections between men and women and to abolish segregation laws. discriminate against women and girls on the basis of their gender.

The report concludes that the world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030.

Gender discrimination in family law

Discrimination in family law, especially when it concerns marriage and the family, extends from the time of entering into marriage, during the marriage period and at the time of termination of the marriage.

Organizations like Musawah was Islamic family law mapping in more than 38 countries in three regions. Their research shows that the male guardianship system, in which the male is considered the head of the household and has legal rights over his wife, daughter and mother, is widespread in MENA, South and Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

The right to divorce continues to be unequal for women. In Algeria, Maldives, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, women have more conditions and procedures than men when applying for a divorce.

Equal custody rights and custody arrangements that focus on the child’s needs remain a challenge for mothers in the MENA region and in Latin American countries such as Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. .

Inheritance is still unequal in many parts of the world. World Bank (2018) Data shows that at least 39 countries prevent daughters from inheriting the same share of wealth as sons.

Family law is an important issue of our time

The inequality that women and girls face under discriminatory family laws and practices affects all other areas of their lives.

According to a report by the international women’s rights organization Equality Now, Words and deeds: Hold governments accountable during Beijing’s +25 review, “a sexist individual status law that violates women’s civil and political rights.” It gives examples of legal discrimination in many countries and notes that such laws, particularly concerning property and inheritance, prevent full economic participation and opportunity. and women’s society.

There is also a direct correlation between legal authority and power for men in the family, and restrictions on women’s autonomy and self-determination, along with an increased capacity to experience . sexual and family violence.

These inequalities have surge during the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing economic, political and climate crises. In April 2020, UNFPA predicts that the COVID-19 pandemic could result in an additional 13 million child marriages in the years immediately following this global health emergency.

Women’s activists calling for reform face serious opposition

For decades, women’s rights groups and activists in countries such as Malaysia, Morocco, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Uganda, to name a few, have lobbied for law reform. unequal family. In Iran, women are now lead the national struggle be free to decide on matters of personal choice such as dress code and other fundamental freedoms.

Activists calling for change face stiff opposition, including intimidation and intimidation from conservative and right-wing religious groups, who often argue that family laws and practices. It is a matter of freedom of religion and belief.

But human rights groups are pushing back by repeatedly making the point that freedom of religion or belief can never be used to justify inequality against women and girls, and that human rights cannot stop at the threshold of a family home.

Despite growing evidence on the impact of discriminatory family law, state action and political will on the reform of discriminatory law, especially family law, have largely does not exist. In fact, in countries like Iran and Afghanistan, women’s activists also face direct risk and harm to life and limb from state agencies themselves.

Global action needed

Global Campaign for Equality in Family Law was launched in March 2020 by eight leading organizations on women’s rights and religion, as well as UN Women. The campaign is calling on governments to prioritize equality in family laws, policies and practices, especially in the light of many other crises that disproportionately affect women and girls.

At the same time, the efforts of courageous community and national activists promoting discriminatory family law reform need to be amplified and resourced. Regionally and globally, feminist movements must further promote family law reform as an important issue.

Achieving gender equality without equality in the family is impossible. We cannot wait 286 years before countries no longer have laws, procedures and practices that discriminate against women and girls.

It’s time to put family law reform on the agenda!

IPS UN Office

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© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service


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