Thousands staged a protest Saturday in Bamako, Mali’s capital, against a proposed law that would give women greater marriage rights in the country. Protests have occurred across the country and largely argue that the law is against Islam and “modeled on Western civilization.”
The law was passed by the Malian National Assembly early this month and awaits the president’s signature. According to ABC and Agence France Presse, the law includes provisions that grant inheritance rights to children born without married parents, change the legal age for marriage to 18, and replaces “paternal power” with “parental authority” in family law.
Hadja Sapiato Dembele of the National Union of Muslim Women’s Associations told the BBC “We have to stick to the Koran…A man must protect his wife, a wife must obey her husband.” She continued, “It’s a tiny minority of women here that wants this new law – the intellectuals. The poor and illiterate women of this country – the real Muslims – are against it.”
Oumou Toura, a Malian women’s rights leader told Afrique en ligne that the new law promotes social justice. She said “Many girls married at 10, 11 or 12 have died in recent years in the region of Kayes…The new code will put the brakes (on this) because the guilty will from now on be punished and fined.”