Ivory Coast’s controversial polygamy bill: All you need to know | Women

The invoice to make polygyny lawful in the West African point out has sparked a discussion on the web and offline in excess of women’s rights.

On June 30, a member of the Ivorian parliament introduced a monthly bill to legalise polygamy, declaring that the follow continues to be prevalent across locations in the country and ought to be legally permitted.

Yacouba Sangaré, the MP who proposed the modify, described the recent matrimonial laws in Ivory Coast as “a generalised hypocrisy”.

The elected member of the ruling The Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) social gathering filed a invoice to amend a June 2019 legislation that stipulates that “no one particular may possibly deal a new marriage in advance of the initial one is dissolved” and that sole point out officials have the authority to legalise a union.

But the proposal has because sparked outrage amongst women’s legal rights organisations and feminist groups who have dubbed it a stage back again in the battle in opposition to gender inequality.

Marriage in Ivory Coast

  • Considering that 1964, a rigid monogamous procedure has been the proscribed sort of marriage in the nation, even nevertheless polygamous marriages contracted ahead of that day are continue to deemed authorized. So standard ceremonies that often require a dowry for wives other than the to start with a single, are not recognised by legislation.
  • But even though polygamy has declined in current yrs it is nonetheless widely practised in sub-Saharan Africa, with a 10th of the inhabitants dwelling in polygamous homes, according to a 2019 research conducted by the Pew Investigation Heart.
  • In Ivory Coast, the figure is somewhat better – 12 percent of all households are polygamous, according to the exact review.
  • Sangaré has been advocating for polygyny – the observe of owning extra than one particular wife – to turn out to be authorized since 2014. He has continuously stated that the standing quo is not adapted to nearby actuality. Polygamy is a phenomenon that predates colonialism and has been part of the cloth of sub-Saharan societies for generations, he argues.
  • The MP claims the 1964 regulation that strictly recognises monogamy has verified ineffective. “There are women who are in de facto polygamous interactions but can not claim anything [when] the romantic relationship is dissolved,” he mentioned. “They have no security, they obtain them selves by yourself, often with young children to raise by themselves. This is why we want to set an stop to this hypocrisy. Polygamous couples can be uncovered in all places in the country, throughout regions, ethnic teams, religions, and social strata. So why not acquire them into account and safeguard them?”

What are the reactions to the monthly bill?

The monthly bill has brought on strong reactions from human and women’s rights activists, who say polygamy results in inherent discrimination against gals.

  • All through a information meeting organised by the Ivorian League for Women’s Rights on July 11th, former Women of all ages Affairs Minister Constance Yaï explained the invoice as a provocation. According to Yaï, who is also head of the Association for the Defense of Women’s Rights (AIDF) advocacy team, the MP’s shift is a new work to alienate gals.
  • She extra that offering guys the selection to marry far more than one woman would contradict Ivorian regulation, citing posting 4 of the Constitution which states “all Ivorians are born and continue being cost-free and equal in legislation no 1 can be privileged or discriminated from mainly because of their race, ethnicity, clan, tribe or gender.”
  • “Polygamy is not an correct reaction to male infidelity or an absence of conversation in partners,” she mentioned at a latest news meeting with fellow feminists and activists. “But if they want to legalise it, let us make absolutely sure that girls can also have a number of partners. Let’s see if the household will go a bill that creates equality amongst the sexes on the relationship front.”

Next the bill’s introduction, the dialogue close to discrimination towards women in polygamous marriages has resurfaced primarily on the web the place a lot of are seemingly against it.

  • “You want to legalize polygyny due to the fact of male infidelity,” one Twitter consumer wrote. “Legalize polyandry also simply because of women’s infidelity.”
  • “All those who practise polygyny listed here are unlawful due to the fact it is disguised adultery less than the legislation and adultery tolerated by authentic wives,” common blogger Edith Brou reported.

What is the standing quo for women’s rights in Ivory Coast?

In Ivory Coast, women’s legal rights and lawful security for ladies and ladies have strengthened in modern yrs.

    • But in fact, inequalities continue to prevail, specifically in parliament where by only 12 % of elected customers are gals.
    • This is despite the Dwelling getting handed a legislation on parity in 2019, which mandates political parties to involve at the very least 30 percent of girls on their candidate record. Ivory Coast is therefore guiding neighbours Togo and Senegal and much behind Rwanda, which stays a world wide leader with pretty much two-thirds of its MPs getting gals.
    • The West African nation has also struggled with considerably addressing gender-dependent violence, specifically in the media. In August 2021, a tv presenter was convicted of glorifying rape and given a a person-year suspended jail sentence for inquiring a convicted rapist he invited onto his primary-time clearly show to simulate a sexual assault applying a model.

What following?

    • The polygamy monthly bill however has to undergo a sequence of steps in advance of it can be submitted to a vote in Home. The remarkably bureaucratic process, which also wants the assent of the constitutional court docket to come to be legislation, could choose “anywhere in between 5 months to 5 years”, stated Sangare. “We are in no hurry. These items always just take time” additional the MP.
    • Despite the controversy his invoice has sparked, Sangare is adamant that feminist voices are not consultant of general public belief.
    • So significantly, no countrywide viewpoint study has been performed to better grasp what Ivorians consider of polygamy and its place in society. But Desiree Okobée, a legal skilled on family members legislation, thinks that a vast majority of Ivorians oppose the legalisation of polygamy. “I don’t feel that a bulk of Ivorians or girls aid this monthly bill,” she instructed Al Jazeera. “I assume it’s the opposite [but] there are regrettably no impression polls or surveys that’s been finished to know that for specified. Our culture has transformed and advanced. Optional polygamy is not the way to go. The concentration should really be created on educating boys and girls from a younger age to steer clear of these procedures.”
    • But women’s rights activists have pledged to battle this invoice with all the instruments at their disposal. “We will thrust back again each and every phase of the way,” claimed Yai.