Advanced

The Legal Framework Regulating Polygamy in Ethiopia: An Assessment In Light of Liberal Feminist Legal Theory and International Human Rights Law

Fulas, Dureti LU (2018) JAMM07 20181
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract
This thesis examines the Ethiopian laws governing polygamy in light of international human rights law standards and liberal feminist legal perspective. The international human rights law regime calls for the abolishment of polygamy through general comments/recommendations issued by the CEDAW and ICCPR treaty bodies. The call for abolishment is based on the notions of equality and dignity while pro polygamists invoke cultural relativism, religious freedom and sexual autonomy.
The tension between the two opposing stances is mainly exacerbated by the inconclusiveness of the inherence of the harms in polygamy.
The thesis does accept this claim of inconclusiveness of the inherence of the harm for the sake of objectivity and considers it a... (More)
This thesis examines the Ethiopian laws governing polygamy in light of international human rights law standards and liberal feminist legal perspective. The international human rights law regime calls for the abolishment of polygamy through general comments/recommendations issued by the CEDAW and ICCPR treaty bodies. The call for abolishment is based on the notions of equality and dignity while pro polygamists invoke cultural relativism, religious freedom and sexual autonomy.
The tension between the two opposing stances is mainly exacerbated by the inconclusiveness of the inherence of the harms in polygamy.
The thesis does accept this claim of inconclusiveness of the inherence of the harm for the sake of objectivity and considers it a better strategic vantage point to ensure the fulfillment of human rights for women and thus calls for the reforms that monogamy has received through family reform agendas to promote women’s rights. It forwards the victimization theory and liberal feminist arguments urging that women are rational beings capable of choosing a good way of life as they see fit and emancipation projects should be geared towards enhancing their capacity in making decisions and ensuring respect for their equality in any legal framework that states promote directly or through the recognition of religious/customary laws. Relinquishing the regulation of marriage in the hands of non state actors (traditional and religious institutions) which is a reflection of the public vs. private should be well addressed not to subjugate women in the name of autonomy.
The thesis argues that the recognition of polygamy under the auspices of consent of the individuals in the case of a recognized religious or customary law under the Ethiopian legal framework, although appears to be neutral, falls very short of ensuring the consent women to polygamous unions and leads to the violation of their dignity, health and economic rights among other substantive rights. While the law is cautious in ensuring consent in adjudication of disputes in accordance with religious and customary laws, it overlooks other broader substantive aspects which are further worsened by other legal stances in the private sphere, particularly in relation to marital rape.
For as long as religious laws permitting polygamy are endorsed, it should be recognized that the rules of monogamy are not sufficient to regulate its complexity and the interplay of the permission with other laws which results in ‘legalized’ abuse of women. No matter how minimal it might appear at first, consent of the concerned women should be a legal requirement that religious institutions that bless polygamous marriages must ensure for that is the very initial constitutional prerequisite under the legal system. The feminist methodology of consciousness raising and empowerment should be deployed in the regulation of polygamy. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Fulas, Dureti LU
supervisor
organization
course
JAMM07 20181
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Polygamy, Ethiopia's legal framework, International Human Rights standards, Liberal feminist legal perspective
language
English
id
8954047
date added to LUP
2018-07-09 10:47:32
date last changed
2018-07-09 10:47:32
@misc{8954047,
  abstract     = {This thesis examines the Ethiopian laws governing polygamy in light of international human rights law standards and liberal feminist legal perspective. The international human rights law regime calls for the abolishment of polygamy through general comments/recommendations issued by the CEDAW and ICCPR treaty bodies. The call for abolishment is based on the notions of equality and dignity while pro polygamists invoke cultural relativism, religious freedom and sexual autonomy.
The tension between the two opposing stances is mainly exacerbated by the inconclusiveness of the inherence of the harms in polygamy.
The thesis does accept this claim of inconclusiveness of the inherence of the harm for the sake of objectivity and considers it a better strategic vantage point to ensure the fulfillment of human rights for women and thus calls for the reforms that monogamy has received through family reform agendas to promote women’s rights. It forwards the victimization theory and liberal feminist arguments urging that women are rational beings capable of choosing a good way of life as they see fit and emancipation projects should be geared towards enhancing their capacity in making decisions and ensuring respect for their equality in any legal framework that states promote directly or through the recognition of religious/customary laws. Relinquishing the regulation of marriage in the hands of non state actors (traditional and religious institutions) which is a reflection of the public vs. private should be well addressed not to subjugate women in the name of autonomy.
The thesis argues that the recognition of polygamy under the auspices of consent of the individuals in the case of a recognized religious or customary law under the Ethiopian legal framework, although appears to be neutral, falls very short of ensuring the consent women to polygamous unions and leads to the violation of their dignity, health and economic rights among other substantive rights. While the law is cautious in ensuring consent in adjudication of disputes in accordance with religious and customary laws, it overlooks other broader substantive aspects which are further worsened by other legal stances in the private sphere, particularly in relation to marital rape.
For as long as religious laws permitting polygamy are endorsed, it should be recognized that the rules of monogamy are not sufficient to regulate its complexity and the interplay of the permission with other laws which results in ‘legalized’ abuse of women. No matter how minimal it might appear at first, consent of the concerned women should be a legal requirement that religious institutions that bless polygamous marriages must ensure for that is the very initial constitutional prerequisite under the legal system. The feminist methodology of consciousness raising and empowerment should be deployed in the regulation of polygamy.},
  author       = {Fulas, Dureti},
  keyword      = {Polygamy,Ethiopia's legal framework,International Human Rights standards,Liberal feminist legal perspective},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Legal Framework Regulating Polygamy in Ethiopia: An Assessment In Light of Liberal Feminist Legal Theory and International Human Rights Law},
  year         = {2018},
}