Women's Rights and Legal Pluralism: A Case Study of the Ethiopian Somali Regional State
Women in Society, 2013
38 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2015
Date Written: October 29, 2013
This study examines women’s rights and legal pluralism in the Ethiopian Somali regional state. To this end, a socio-legal research methodology was used. Both secondary data and primary data (collected through semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and observations) were utilized. The primary data was collected from judges, prosecutors, community elders, men and women. The study revealed that personal property, participation, family rights and marriage rights of women are compromised under customary law – xeer and religious law – sharia. Some of the practices of xeer and sharia are incompatible with the FDRE and Somali constitutions and universal human rights standards. It is also found that women subscribe to these laws not always by their consent but due to fear of social exclusion and loss of social security from their kinship. Moreover, the family law which has been applied in Somali region sustains the inequality and discrimination of women. It is argued that women’s rights are compromised to protect the pluralistic features of the Ethiopian society. The principle of legal pluralism has the potential of eroding the constitutional guarantees given to women. The study asserts that to enforce the constitutionally guaranteed women’s rights, proper monitoring of the application of legal pluralism is required.
Keywords: Women rights, Legal Pluralism, Ethiopia, Somali Regional State
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