Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Areas of Difficulty for Women/Discriminatory Laws and Practices against Women in Nigeria

Legal aid is available in a few criminal cases, murder, manslaughter, assault occasioning harm with the condition that applicant must have an annual income below 1,500.

E.g. The National Policy on women makes the following for reaching provision, which stakeholders can
promote in their work
• Ensuring women’s access to free or low cost legal services
• Minimum age of 18 or all forms of marriage so that girls enjoy their rights to education and proper physical and mental development.
• Enactment of family protection law to criminalize acts of domestic violence or neglect.
• Review and codification of customary laws as a means of eliminating their content and application.
• Harmonisation of laws to ensure women’s rights to inheritance, custody of their children and ownership of land.

Constraints of women’s rights in the criminal law
• Some offences are gender specific so police are reluctant to prosecute
• Sexual harassment is not recognised as an offence.
• Police are reluctant to prosecute.
• The requirement for corroboration is strict.
• Prosecution must begin within two months after the offence is committed
• In some cases a person cannot be convicted on uncorroborated testimony of one witness.

There is no minimum age for marriage under both the criminal and penal codes. This leaves a gap which exposes girls to early marriage and premature sexual intercourse. Girls also stand a chance of getting the Vasico Vigina Fitula (VVF) and other infections and are not protected by some sections of the law because of the implied consent as a result of marriage.

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