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11 Worldwide Laws To Change Before We Get Gender Equality

  • IWB Post
  •  March 21, 2015


Today, more countries uphold gender equality in their constitutions than ever before- and this is reason to celebrate. But, at the same time, many of these same countries uphold laws that prevent women from being treated as equals. Let us have a look at few discriminatory laws around the world that affect women:

1. Democratic Republic of the Congo

In DRC, a law states that the husband is the head of the household, and the wife must obey her husband.2. Japan

According to the Civil Code of Japan, a man is free to marry once he turns 18, but a girl can marry once she turns 16.

3. Yemen

In Yemen, wives are required to have “legitimate intercourse” with their husbands when they are “fit to do so”. They are also required to obey, and refrain from leaving their home unless given permission from their husbands.

4. United States of America

In the United States, children born out of wedlock wishing to obtain US citizenship face different conditions, depending on whether they obtain status through the mother or the father. The laws are rather complicated and detailed, but the take away is this: the law intrinsically treats women and men differently. Gender equality is not about giving preference to either gender, hence the word, “equality”.*

5. Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, a fatwa (Islamic ruling) states that women should not drive because doing so could lead to the removal of the hijab, interactions with men, and “taboo” acts. The government claims there is no law preventing women from driving cars.

6. Chile

Husbands are responsible for the spouses’ joint property in Chile, as well as property belonging to the wife.

7. Madagascar

In Madagascar, the Labor Code states that women are not allowed to be employed at night in any “industrial establishment… except for establishments where the only ones employed therein are members of one same family.”

8. Russian Federation

Women are prohibited from doing “heavy work” or working in harmful, dangerous conditions. Equality Now notes that other types of work women may not engage in, include, “ driving trains; operating bulldozers, tractors and trucks; carpenting; plumbing in sewage systems; cutting and cleaning leather materials in leather production; steelmaking; building and repairing ships; inspecting watercrafts in the fishing industry; frontline firefighting; and working as a professional sailor and aircraft and ship mechanic.”

9. India

In India, unless the wife is under 15 years old, sexual acts between a man and his wife cannot be considered rape.

10. Nigeria

Husbands are permitted to punish their wives using physical force for the purposes of “correction”, so long as the offense doesn’t result in “grievous hurt.”

11. Egypt

Egyptian law protects honor killings. If the husband catches his wife committing adultery and kills her on the spot, the law states that he will be punished with detention instead of stricter penalties prescribed for other murders.


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