To say that the fairer sex has been discriminated against is a massive understatement. Women have been considered weaklings and more like property since caveman times, where cavemen could simply knock a woman down with their mighty club (and yes, the pun is very much intended) and drag them by their hair to their caves to have their way with them.
Come to think of it, have things really changed for women all that much? When I last watched 50 Shades of Grey, I didn’t think so. Women are still often considered to be property, spied on by their families and husbands, ridiculed if they wear men’s clothing and hooted at if they wear feminine stuff. Women are still expected to be virgins in the marriage bed and turn into fiery flames of desire for their one and only. They are slut-shamed and name-called, eve-teased and catcalled, and basically made to feel like a lesser or an inferior citizen of the world.
Women the world over are told to be careful of the big, bad wolf lurking in the shadows. As little girls, the wolf used to eat Red Riding Hood. As we grew older, we got to know that the real wolves didn’t eat little girls – they beat them, raped them, owned them, sold them, tortured them and many times also killed them in horrific, devious ways. And when the little girls and the women dared to ask why, they were told that these wolves had government sanctions. So here go the 15 most reprehensible anti-woman laws in the world that show women are still somewhere in the dark ages.
15. Women Can Be Divorced By Mere Utterance
So in Moslem countries, if a man gets bored of his wife of however many years, all he has to do is utter the word talaq aka the Persian word for divorce three times in succession and that’s it – the woman now stands divorced and can be thrown out of her husband’s home, willy-nilly. Altogether 20 countries with Moslem residents have banned this triple talaq system and as of August 22, 2017, India is the 20th to go against this unsexy law. Called talaq-e-biddat – it is a rather effective if a horrific way that men can prove their superiority over women – three little words can end a marriage if uttered by a man though equal rights are never granted to the woman. And even Islam considers this instant talaq repugnant and prefers talaq be uttered twice over two months with one month between each uttered talaq for both sides to think things through. And yet, in many countries, this instant triple talaq stands valid even though it violates women’s rights. Unsexy laws? You bet!
14. Passing Citizenship Still Lies With Men
So, even in a country as advanced as the US (despite having you know who as President), men and women are considered by the law with a rather skewed view especially when it comes to citizenship. In the US, if a child is born out of wedlock to a foreign mother and an American father, he or she has a grueling number of forms and requisites to follow to become a true blue US citizen. Though at least in the US a woman is not stigmatized or stoned to death if she does become a mother out of wedlock. That aside, more than 20 countries do not allow even married women to pass citizenship to their children as their fathers so obviously can. And some 40 countries do not allow the woman’s citizenship to extend to her husband after marriage, though the reverse holds true – a man can pass on his citizenship to his wife post marriage. Archaic, lame or just unsexy?
13. Women Are Not Supposed To Do Hard Or Dangerous Work
Women are the fairer sex, right? So despite surviving really dangerous and abhorrent things like slavery and rape, or the more mundane but no less scary pregnancy and child bearing, some countries have actually “banned” women from doing tough jobs. Like in China, women are absolutely forbidden from working in mines. And speaking broadly, are not allowed to do any work that falls under physical labor or any other work that females should not be doing. To top that, a similar law exists in Russia where women are prohibited from doing jobs that are hard, dangerous or well, unhealthy. A rather sweeping law if there ever was one, this basically culls out some 400+ jobs from a woman’s repertoire. Even in countries that are now slowly letting women become part of their defense forces, frontline fighting is still a long way off – despite women having proven their worth as fighters as the legendary Amazons.
12. A Woman’s Word? Now What Worth Is That?
So in Iran, if you call a witness to the court and ask her…Wait. Did you say “her”? (Insert court laughter). You got the gist, right? A woman’s testimony, particularly in cases like adultery, stands for exactly half the worth as a man’s. So if the defense calls for a man as a witness, and the prosecution calls a woman, the latter needs to make it women. A male witness is doubly trustworthy and holds more weight in Iranian courts than a female witness. Draconian? Oh yeah, but in most cases, there has to be testimony from at least (if not more) double the women than the men. And when the crime is far worse than adultery, a woman’s witness worth falls even lower.
11. When Men Kill To Preserve Manly Family Honor
So while the onus of citizenship falls to man, the onus of “honor” most definitely falls on the woman. In many strictly religious countries, an unmarried girl who even talks to a man who is not her brother, father or cousin is inviting trouble and basically considered to be soiling the family honor. She can be beaten, enslaved, starved and put through horrific purification processes – all in the name of her clan’s honor. And heaven forbid she actually falls in love with a man, eloped with him or worst of all, gets pregnant out of recognized wedlock (even if it was through rape), then she has blackened the family’s name and the family has rights to do whatever dastardly thing they want to do with her – culminating in her violent death. The perpetrators are often handed out lesser, mercy sentences for when the circumstances, as Syrian courts would say, were warranted or mitigated.
10. Want a Woman? Feel Free To Abduct, Assault, And Then Marry Her
So in case you want to marry an unwilling woman and stay in Lebanon or Malta, well, all you have to do is kidnap your would-be bride. Surely such a grand gesture of love will soften her heart into love? No? Well, you can also go ahead and rape her for good measure – then she’ll surely see you as a man. Still no luck? Well, no matter – now that you have kidnapped and raped her – you can go ahead and marry her, whether she wants to or not. Her family will surely agree because of the shame that she brought upon her family; why else was she kidnapped and raped in the first place if she wasn’t a shameless hussy? And such is the beauty of the laws in Malta and Lebanon, where the perpetrator of so many crimes against women go scot-free. Why? Well, you married her, didn’t you? So all stands forgiven and that is very unsexy indeed.
9. Women Can’t Drive. No Really. They Can’t.
So in Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive cars. Don’t believe us? Well, understand that a woman in Saudi Arabia is not the guardian of her life. Nah, that’s a man’s job. So every woman in Saudi Arabia must have a male guardian, beginning from her father, to the uncles, the husband, brothers and even her son. Saudi women need a go ahead from the guardian to study, work, travel, marry, and access certain types of health care. And it’s not as if there is an actual “law” that prevents women from driving – it’s just an ingrained attitude that runs deep and makes the law aka the police stop female drivers (the ones who dare to get behind a wheel) and question them. The women are made to write down a pledge not to drive again; or else, it’s lashing time for them!
8. Women Can Be Beaten By Their Husbands. Just Don’t Leave Marks
Is wifey being a shrew? Well if you are a Nigerian husband, you are legally allowed to tame her by any means possible, throw a few punches, choke her a bit, slap her around. Just don’t hurt her “grievously” or leave too many marks. Your beatings should be her shame, but not yours – marks will prove you to be a brute and remember, you have to tame her and not kill her… In Pakistan as well, men can “lightly beat” their wives to reprimand them or make them tow the man’s line. And against all odds and the very grain that is the essence of “family” Russia has decriminalized domestic violence, meaning the head of the family aka the man can beat his wife (and children) if they resist his decree and shall not be prosecuted unless he ends up breaking bones. Shame…
7. Every Breath You Take, I’ll Be Watching You…
When Sting crooned these lyrics in what seems to me a stalker’s paradise, he must not have realized that the men in countries like Cameroon and Guinea were actually listening and agreeing. The wife can work in these countries, but only where their husband allows them to for he has a legal say in everything his wife does. This means a Cameroon or Guinea husband, as well as the husbands of some 18 other countries, can dictate to their wives where they can work or not, and what they can do, or not! And the wives have to follow for it’s the man’s right to say and the woman’s to quietly obey and follow. A husband may prohibit his wife from taking a job in a different trade or profession than him if he feels that is in the best interest of his marriage and children. So a husband can dictate to a woman to give up her job if he feels it’s not in the “family’s” interest.
6. Up For Some Inheritance? You Better Pray You Have Balls…
So a child is a child is a child, right? Well yeah, but not if the child is a girl. Like in India, the law was biased for many years where the sons of the family received the entire share of an inheritance and the daughters, well, they got peanuts. The law changed but for one little detail: the father, aka the head of the family, has the power of his Will. He can choose to be as gender-biased as he likes and give everything to his son(s) if he so wishes. And mostly, women often give up property rights in order to avoid any strained family ties. In Tunisia, the law is simple – a daughter gets only half as much a share as does her brother. In many other countries still, wives have no right to their husband’s properties and daughters have little to no right in their father’s properties. Yet in other darker countries, women cannot own property at all.
5. Married? Well, Your Marital Home Might As Well Be Jail
Most married women and men in an equal marriage recognize each other’s right to independence but do inform each other of their whereabouts, not as a necessity, but more as good manners, safety, security and general goodwill. We don’t need our husband’s “express permission” to step out of the house or cover our bodies from head to toe because our marital laws dictate it. Not that we have anything against the women who do – it’s just a matter of free will and a fight against sexist laws. But a husband in Afghanistan can legally restrict his wife’s right to leave the house – and he doesn’t even need to give her any ground for it. The same is true in Yemen, where a wife’s movements outside the marital home can be restricted by her other half at his will, not hers. Plus, her family can also be banned from visiting her in many Moslem countries, if the husband so decrees that her family is making mischief in his household.
4. Changed Your Mind? Well, You Can’t. Not Now.
When you think about laws that kind of go against women, you don’t think the US would be in the running, right? But it is – or rather, North Carolina definitely is. According to a law in North Carolina, once a woman has given consent for sex, she cannot take it back. So if the act is ultimately forced upon her, according to the law there is no rape! Because of this abhorrent law, rapes are getting dismissed in North Carolina courts, and this happens in the land of the free and the great. A 2017 incident in which a girl decided to have consensual sex with a man in the bathroom soon turned ugly for her when he started hurting her and painfully pulling her hair – despite her saying no – and he forcibly raped her. Unfortunately for her, she was in North Carolina. Ergo, no rape. She said yes, so she didn’t have the right to change her mind! NC, wake up, please…
3. Husbands: 10. Wives: 0. Ergo, Husbands Rule
A son-in-law is at par with a daughter-in-law, right? Well, duh, no! In Israel, for example, divorce is not an option a woman can have. Once she’s married, well, she’s stuck for good unless the husband decides to unstick himself and get a divorce. While a Jewish woman can apply for divorce, she will be granted one by the rabbinical court only if her husband gives consent. If the husband refuses to do so, she is now a “chained woman” who cannot marry or give birth to legitimate children. The husband needs no such consent from his wife. In Mali as well, a law in 2011 upheld the fact that the man is the head of the household and can and will expect (blind?) disobedience from his wife. In case the husband dies or gets a divorce, a woman has to wait for three months before she can remarry. Men can marry the same day of their divorce or their wife’s death if they so wish. HooHaa!
2. Assaulted? Really? Okay, So Now Bring Forth The Witnesses
How do you prove that a sexual encounter was, in fact, a rape? In India, if your husband rapes you, the court decrees he didn’t. Meaning there is no providence of marital rape in the courts of Indian law, so if your husband, horrid and evil as he may be, wants some action, he gets it and you get no justice. If you think India is a third world country and blah, blah – let me take you to Germany. If a woman is drugged, semi-unconscious or unconscious, or simply petrified to resist, there was no rape, says German law. For a rape to happen, a woman has to actively resist, and she better have some marks to prove it too. Verstanden? And in case you are in Saudi Arabia and get raped, well, your best bet is to keep mum and pray that no one ever finds out. Unless you have four male witnesses to prove that yes, you were in fact raped. Otherwise, you are just a whore and will be lashed for it, as was the case of the recent gang rape victim who was jailed and lashed. So much for justice!
1. Looking For A Young, Sweet Bride? Well Here’s A Legal Underage One.
So you want a young sweet thang for a wife? Head down to some African or Asian countries, pay a small fee, and hey, any girl aged 12 to 15 can be your little missus. In countries like Ethiopia and Nigeria, girls as young as seven become “brides” to men as old as 70! So if these little ones die because of the marital bed or because of maternal complications, well so be it, at least the parents got the money. The younger the girl, the better dowry she fetches. Almost 40% of girls in Mali get married before the age of 15 and that in itself is a shocking number. In South Asian countries, child marriage is deemed illegal and a girl has to be 18 before she weds, but the rural areas often operate their own laws and girls as young as 10 or 12 still end up as brides. The official age of marriage for girls in many countries is 15, which basically dubs child or teen marriage legal. In Yemen for instance, girls as young as eight years old can be legally married but consummation with them is forbidden till they achieve puberty, which the conservatives ordained to be at age nine! So in Yemen, forget child brides, there must be 10-year-old mothers as well… And it’s legal!
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