6 October 2010

Mali: Parliament Continues Family Law Debate

The controversial family law returns to Mali's parliament this week after President Toumani Touré ordered that the text be returned for review.

The country's Muslim community had protested the law, saying that it went against Islam. A new amended version on the table has been endorsed by the High Islamic Council, but denounced by civil society, which calls for a secular law.

On Monday, Touré said the bill would be passed during the current session of parliament.

The bill has been altered, including the reintroduction of religious marriage, and a change to the articles that had previously given women greater inheritance rights. The bill also changes the original text that deals with the recognition of an illegitimate child.

Tens of thousands of people came out on the streets of Bamako, the capital, earlier this year in protest of the more secular draft.

Although Touré was behind the new draft, he sent it back to parliament for review.

The revisions were made after consultations with the High Islamic Council, who approved the text. Civil society groups were not consulted at all, although they have called for a modern and secular law to be put on the books.

"The representatives of civil society have never been ehard in recent months and only discovered the new version after reading the paper here in Mali," said Brahima Kone, president of the Malian Association of Human Rights.

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