The Japanese Supreme Court [official website, in Japanese] ruled Wednesday that a law requiring married couples to have the same surname is constitutional. The lawsuits were filed [Japan Times report] on behalf of women who claimed the law amounted to gender discrimination because it caused undue emotional stress and sometimes even depression when they were forced to pick a surname when it came to issues of adoption and business relationships. The court held that the law was not discriminatory because the law allows the couples to choose which surname to use, even though it was shown that the majority of couples choose the husband’s last name. The court found the law reflected the deep values of society and there was no need to change it. However the court held [WSJ report] that another nineteenth century law requiring a divorced woman to wait at least six months before marriage was discriminatory and should be shortened to 100 days.
Women worldwide continue to face inequality around the world. In September the UN stated [JURIST report] that no country has been able to achieve gender equality. In June the UN renewed calls [JURIST report] for women and girls to be given equal access to education. A discussion panel said equal educational rights is way to end discrimination against women that is “so deeply etched in many societies.” In April 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. In February the UN reported that in at least 70 countries, women and girls have been attacked for seeking education [JURIST report], which is seen as a challenge to existing gender-based systems of oppression.