January 18, 2002
Nigerian judge denies
out-of-wedlock mom bail
A story released today by AllAfrica.com reports that the trial of another alleged
Nigerian adulteress, Hafsat Abubakar, at the Upper Sharia Court II in Sokoto was again
adjourned for further hearing. This was announced by the judge, Alhaji Bawa Sahabi
Tambuwal, at Upper Sharia Court II in Sokoto.
Barrister Abdulkadir Imam standing in for the defendant had requested the court to
release her on bail to allow him time for consultation with his client.
Prosecutor corporal Waallah Jibo Gwandu, however, urged the judge to turn down the
request noting that because of the gravity and nature of the offense the suspect might
The judge, Alhaji Tambuwal, explained that section 129 of the Sharia penal code of
Sokoto State, states that if an unmarried woman has children outside wedlock, she would be
given 100 lashes and shall also be liable to one year imprisonment while a married woman
who commits the same offense is to be stoned to death.
The judge said that looking at the nature of the offense, which he described as
"capital" he would not allow her bail but adjourned the case for further hearing
till January 21, 2002.
Study shows men more eager to walk down the aisle
A story released today by Sky News (U.K.) reports that according to a new research
commissioned by Archers Schnapps, men are now more likely than women to want to get
married and settle down.
A survey of 1,000 people found that 44% of men want to settle down between the ages of
20 and 26, compared with just 37% of women.
The results have been put down to two discoveries - that male body clocks are ticking
much faster than females and the growth of television programs portraying strong,
independent women who have put marriage on the backburner.
Psychologist Belinda Board said recent studies showing the decline of sperm counts
after the age of 25 had become a cause for concern.
"If men are getting more in tune, either consciously or otherwise, with their time
clock, part of male thinking is that their fertility declines slowly after 25.
"If this is true that men have a strong biological need to reproduce, you could
theorize that they have an added awareness of wanting to marry and settle down. It is
perhaps uncool to crop your oats."
She added: "There were many more men in the survey that were interested in
settling down than I would have expected 20 years ago and I think that's also a reflection
of what's going on socially for women who are seeing themselves more independently."
Chinese college students slowly
letting go of traditional views
A story published today by the China Daily reports that a survey recently conducted
among college students in east China's Zhejiang Province show that they hold a quite open
attitude toward sex.
According to the survey results, 62 percent of the students participating in the survey
consider that college students can have sex before marriage so long as the pairs love each
other. 85 percent of the students think couples who already have sexual relations may also
not get married later on.
The survey indicates China's traditional view that a person should be faithful to one
lover for all lifetime is on the verge of collapse.
According to the results, 62 percent regard the cherishing of chastity as an oppression
against human nature. More female students agree upon this than males.
In the eight standards concerning spouse selection, namely one' s characters and
morality, income or economic conditions, appearance, educational level, temper, health,
chastity as well as mutual understanding, most students put the lover's characters and
morality in the first place.
Temper and mutual understanding come the second and third places. Chastity, lined as
the last one, is considered the least significant factor affecting their decisions when
choosing a spouse.
About 71 percent of the students think that they will still marry their girl or boy
friends even knowing they once have sexual relations with others.
The survey results also show that 13 percent can completely accept to have love affairs
outside wedlock; while 63 percent express their understanding about it.
Among all the surveyed students, no male can accept a wife with an educational level
higher than his own; while no girl is willing to marry a man with a lower level of
A story released today by Business Day reports that the South Africa Law Commission has
recommended that sexually active teens be granted confidential access to contraceptives
regardless of age.
The potentially contentious recommendation is one of many contained in an investigation
and review of the Child Care Act of 1983 by the commission.
At a media briefing in Pretoria yesterday the commission made public the discussion
paper on the act as well as a separate one on sexual offences as part of work it has been
involved in since 1997. The commission's propositions come at a time when sexual abuse and
the rape of women and children has received intense media and public attention.
The commission in the discussion paper on the Child Care Act says access to
contraceptives and advice should be at state expense "where necessary" and
should not be linked to medical treatment. The commission also suggests that unmarried
fathers acquire parental responsibility by "entering into an agreement with the
mother". However, it discounts such responsibility in cases where a child is
conceived through rape or incest.
The discussion paper also recommends at least three categories of unmarried fathers
that should be granted such responsibility automatically. These are:
The father who has acknowledged paternity and who has supported the child within his
The father who, subsequent to the child's birth, has cohabited with the mother for a
period of at least a year; and
The father who, with the mother's consent, has cared for the child on a regular basis
for at least a year, whether or not he has been cohabiting with the mother.
Thursday, January 17, 2002
Jordanian activists criticize exceptions to new marriage age law
A story published today by the Jordan Times reports that Jordanian women activists said
they were disappointed with a series of regulations issued by the Chief Islamic Justice
Department relating to underage marriages, describing it as a "step backwards"
for gains made in recent legislative amendments in favor of women in the country of
In December, the Cabinet endorsed what many saw then as modern amendments to the
Personal Status Law, which included lifting the age of marriage from 15 for women and 16
for men to 18 for both, and allowing women to file for divorce.
But on Wednesday, the Chief Islamic Justice Department issued instructions listing five
exceptions to the rule which would allow a judge to perform underage marriages.
These stipulate that the suitor must be financially competent and able to pay the
dowry, that the marriage will prevent evil or immoral acts, ensuring the female's consent
to the marriage, and obtaining the guardian's approval of the marriage.
The fifth exception allows insane or mentally challenged minors to marry if their union
will be for their own benefit.
"They issue progressive laws then they come up with instructions that push this
legislation backwards and nullify all the positive changes that came in the
amendments," said one activist who declined to be named.
Sociologists and women activists have repeatedly called for an end to such marriages,
which usually take place in rural areas, arguing that it posed health hazards to females.
"How can a child raise a child?" argued Vice President of the Jordanian
Women's Union Nadia Shamroukh.
The new instructions give judges the authority to perform marriage ceremonies according
to their own convictions, "and we as a union have always fought this," she
She also voiced objection to the condition which approves such a marriage if it
prevents an evil or immoral act.
"This is ambiguous. Who decides what an evil or immoral act is? Parents can come
up with any story to get their daughters wed," she charged.
But Director of the Sharia Courts Judge Issam Arabiyat, one of 80 Sharia judges who
drafted the instructions last week, defended the new rules saying such a marriage is only
performed in exceptional cases and all five conditions should be met before it can take
"The basic rule is to wed people 18 and over. But judges were instructed to wed a
couple only if they see it would be beneficial for both parties," said Judge
In explaining the immoral and evil prevention condition, Judge Arabiyat said it applies
only in exceptional cases such as when a female has been sexually assaulted.
"Usually she would be held in prison for her own safety. So it is much better for
her own sake to be wed to the person who raped her (if there was reconciliation between
the two parties), than spending time in prison," Arabiyat explained.
Wednesday, January 16, 2002
New Zealand Law Commission calls
for the repeal of the Joint Family Homes Act
A story released today by One News (New Zealand) reports that the New Zealand Law
Commission is urging the government to abolish the Joint Family Homes Act on the ground
that the Act is outdated.
In a report just tabled, the Commission says joint family homes are an unnecessary
complication in the law. The Law Commission is urging the government to repeal the act.
The recommendation comes just weeks before the Property Relationships Amendment Act
The new law extends protection under the Matrimonial Property Act to people in domestic
The commission says the act was first passed in 1950 by the then-National government as
part of its policy to reinforce Christian family values.
But the commission says society values have changed. It says most of the act's
advantages have evaporated and joint family homes are an unnecessary complication.
The Law Commission says any residual privileges joint family homes would bestow on
married couples would discriminate against people living in other relationships or alone.
It says there has been a shift away from formal legal marriage.
The Commission says that is reflected in the provisions of the Property Relationships
Amendment Act, which takes effect next month.
Married women going back to school can spell out divorce
A story published today by the New Zealand Herald reports that according to a British
study conducted by the UK National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education, married
women who go back to school to continue their education often face marriage breakdowns.
Kathryn James, who examined the topic for the institute said: "This is quite a
common occurrence, sometimes referred to as the 'Educating Rita' syndrome."
In the film Educating Rita, Julie Walters plays a working-class housewife who failed at
school and returns to study under the tutelage of Michael Caine.
Rita's husband resents her enthusiasm for learning, and they split up.
Ms. James found that, as with Rita, most women continued their courses with a new-found
confidence, even if it led to marital separation.
One woman told the study researchers: "I have suffered a broken marriage since
starting back in education, but this is down to personal growth and new confidence."
"Most women do carry on with the course. They see learning as their route to
earning if things do go wrong. It becomes more important still." noted James."
But some do give up to save their marriage."
The study said many women returning to education saw changes that could be considered
traumatic, such as a marriage breakup, as a route to a more fulfilling life.
Another woman interviewed for the study said she was more stressed since starting
"I never had headaches and now I am rarely without one.
"Despite this, I would still do the same again. Headaches are better than
Turkey recognizes women and men as
A story released today by WomensENews reports that Turkey, the world's most secular
Muslim nation, has enacted revolutionary changes in its family law code, declaring women
and men equal in marriage and giving women equal rights in divorce and property ownership.
"This symbolizes a historic turning point," the Ankara-based Flying Broom
women's rights group said in a statement. "Our country is closer to achieving the
goal of equality between women and men."
The revisions to the code, which had remained largely untouched since its introduction
in 1926, include the abolition of the legal principle that "the head of the marriage
union is the man" and it also now gives men and women equal roles in family matters.
Whereas under the old code divorced women were entitled only to property legally
registered under their names, the revisions stipulate that property and assets are to be
"I would like to stress that this clause is not only important to women seeking a
divorce, but also for women already married, as it ensures economic equality in the family
which is the basis for many other equalities during marriage," Pinar Ilkkaracan, a
leader of Women for Women's Human Rights said in an interview conducted by email from
According to the new code, the 50-50 rule on property would apply to assets acquired
after January 1, 2003. Women's groups have demanded that the equal division be applied now
to all property held by married couples but it remains to be seen whether lawmakers will
heed their call.
"The reform of the civil code has come as a result of decades of advocacy by the
Turkish women's movement," Ilkkaracan said. "The fact that the reform of the
civil code did not even meet any resistance from the public proves that the public has
long accepted the demands of the Turkish women's movement--it was rather the Turkish
parliament which was slow."
The new code also raises the legal age for marriage to 18up from 17 for men
and 15 for women. It also requires that couples be legally separated for six months before
they can file for divorce. The legal age for adopting children will fall from 35 to 30 and
single parents will be allowed to adopt under the new code. Although it makes no
provisions for cohabiting families, the code grants out-of-wedlock children the same
inheritance rights as other offspring.
Men too will benefit. They can request alimony from wives who earn more than they do.
Also, the revisions permit a man can take his wife's surname.