Mali rolls back women's rights

2012-01-20 22:12

Bamako - Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure has signed a new family law, an official said Friday, after it was revised due to pressure from Muslim groups to cut out sections providing for greater women's freedoms.

An official from the territorial administration ministry said on Friday the new code was now in practice after being enacted by Toure in "late December - early January".

Mohamed Kimbiri of the Malian Islamic High Council confirmed that the president "announced the promulgation to a delegation from the high council this week".

This came after the council held a gathering attended by some 50 000 people in a Bamako stadium on January 14, calling for the new family code to be signed into law.

The family law, in a country which is 90% Muslim, has created a furore in recent years.

A first version adopted by the National Assembly in 2009, backed by Toure, had removed phrases that a woman must obey her husband, increased the legal age of marriage and gave greater rights to women in case of divorce or inheritance.

However after angry protests from Muslim groups the president sent the law back to parliament for revision.

The new version has been criticised by rights bodies such as the International Federation for Human Rights which said "the modified text goes against the very principles of equal rights and non-discrimination".

In the new code a woman must obey her husband, men are considered the head of the family and the legal age for marriage is 16 for girls.

"With the adoption of this text, Mali has missed the opportunity to eliminate discrimination and harmful practices against women," FIDH said in a statement.

Read more on:    amadou toumani toure  |  mali  |  west africa  |  gender equaility
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