In 1969, a human first stepped on the moon. We landed our first spacecraft on Mars in 1976. In 2022, we are still proving inadequate in establishing a world free of daily horrors for women. Many legal measures are working towards inhibiting women to come out of the shadows of our “advanced” society.
Here is a list of sexist laws that need to be done away with which prove to all those who ask why we need feminism.
1. A man’s testimony equals that of two women
In 2011, in Mali, a law proceeded to legitimise the status of a man as the head of the household while also mandating that the wife be obedient to him. It further curtailed the freedom of women by declaring that a woman must wait for three months before getting remarried. Predictably, no such legislation has been passed to limit men’s freedom.
2. Women lose the right to say “no” to their husbands upon getting married
In many countries around the world like Singapore and Yemen, non-consensual sex after marriage is not accounted for as the criminal offence it is. It does not even constitute as rape as long as the wife is above a certain age — 13 in Singapore. In Yemen, where child marriage still happens on a huge scale, there is no lower age limit to define rape in marriage.
3. A man’s testimony equals that of two women
Even in 2022, women are continually looked down upon as untrustworthy and their judgement as unreliable. In countries like Iran, the testimony given by a woman in cases revolving around subjects like adultery is automatically reduced to half of a man’s testimony in similar cases. For women’s testimony to amount to anything, their number should be double of men’s testimony.
4. Women are treated like second-class citizens in many countries in terms of nationality
In countries like Jordan and Lebanon, mothers cannot legally pass their nationality to their children, meaning if a Jordanian woman gets married to a foreign husband, her children lose the opportunity to become Jordanian citizens. This puts them in peril of being denied public services like healthcare and education.
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5. Women don’t have legal rights to fight against domestic violence
Many laws continue promoting the subjugation of women and inhibiting their life by leaving them without any legal safeguards to protect themselves against violence in marriage. These laws highlight the persistent idea that a woman is still her husband’s property and therefore subject to his demands. As many as 46 countries in the world do not provide any kind of legal protection against domestic violence. In Nigeria, a husband has the legal right to beat his wife “to correct” her, so long as it does not lead to grievous bodily harm.
6. Women inherit less than their brothers
Many countries limit the amount of inheritance a woman can have through various laws. In Tunisia, for example, a woman is only allowed to inherit half of what her brother can. This law hopefully will come to an end with the support of President Beji Caid Essebsi who has called for the end of this backward inheritance rule.
7. ‘Honour killings’ are punished far less severely than other murder crimes
In countries like Egypt and Syria, men are given a considerably smaller sentence for murdering a woman if she is caught in an adulterous act compared to other forms of murder. In Syria, a man who has been caught committing the crime of murdering his mother, sister, or wife due to catching them in an “illegitimate sexual act” receives a sentence containing not more than seven years in prison. Worse yet until 2009, there were no legal ramifications for this crime in Syria.
8. Women cannot freely choose their occupation
As many as 18 countries around the world do not allow women to get jobs without their husband’s permission. In Cameroon, the law goes as far as to allow a husband to prohibit certain jobs for his wife if he decides that they do not align with his family’s best interest.
9. Women cannot travel without their husband’s permission
Women are required to submit a notarized permission slip from their husbands to apply for a passport in India. They cannot leave the country without their husband’s approval. This sexist law came to light when the captain of Iran’s female football team wasn’t able to travel to an international tournament, as her husband refused to sign a permission slip for the renewal of her passport.
As we can comprehend by now, there are still certain laws that hold back women. Women need to be released from such unequal laws so that they can survive with greater independence and freedom, from which society will benefit as a whole.
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