[JURIST] Uganda’s Supreme Court [official website] ruled on Thursday that the practice of refunding the price of a bride upon the dissolution of a customary marriage is unconstitutional and should be banned. In a 6-1 decision [press release], the majority held that the practice suggests that women were in the market place and it infringes on a woman’s right to divorce. The judges also said it suggests that a woman is being bought when she marries [BBC report]. The judges did not find that the bride price itself was unconstitutional. Supporters of a ban on the bride price, including the organization Mifumi [advocacy website] which brought the suit, said the practice makes women the property of their husbands. The group welcomed the court’s decision, despite the court rejecting that bride pricing itself was unconstitutional. Supporters of bride pricing say that the practice is an honor and a sign that the couple is entering into a respectful marriage. Typically, a wife is expected to refund her husband the bride price upon divorce. The refund is usually paid in livestock. However, most women do not have the same wealth as their husbands.
The UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice warned [JURIST report] last March that the progress made in achieving women’s rights remains under continuous threat. They stressed that, “no country in the world has achieved full substantive equality of women.” UN Women in May released Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016: Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights, the gender-equality organization’s flagship report [JURIST report] on the status of women around the world. The report “proposes a comprehensive agenda for key policy actors, including gender equality advocates, national governments and international agencies, to make human rights a lived reality for all women and girls,” by focusing on the economic and social aspects of gender relations.” Despite international efforts to educate communities [JURIST op-ed] and protect women’s rights to be free from discrimination, women worldwide still face inequality due frequently to a lack of governmental support. Last month the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the government of Afghanistan [JURIST report] to provide women protection against domestic violence within the state. Also last month Amnesty International reported that Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram has abducted at least 2,000 women and girls [JURIST report] since the start of 2014, subjecting some to forced-marriage. On the first of April the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women urged [JURIST report] Tanzania to enforce its international obligations to prevent discrimination against women, after two women brought suit arguing that customary laws enforced in their communities contravened Tanzania’s constitution and its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. In February the UN reported attacks [JURIST report] on young girls for seeking an education in at least 70 countries.