Last Updated: Monday, 20 October 2014, 09:33 GMT

Botswana court rules women are no longer second-class citizens

Publisher Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Publication Date 12 October 2012
Cite as Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Botswana court rules women are no longer second-class citizens, 12 October 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/508648a72.html [accessed 20 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

A landmark ruling on 12 October by Gaborone's High Court found that gender discrimination based on Botswana's customary law is unconstitutional.

The court ruled on a case brought by three sisters, all over 65 years old, challenging a Ngwaketse customary law that holds the right of inheritance to the family home belongs to the youngest son.

"Critically, the judge made it clear that discrimination cannot be justified on cultural grounds before rejecting out of hand the argument put forward by the Attorney General that Botswana society was not ready for [gender] equality," Priti Patel, deputy director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), said in a statement. SALC supported the sisters' case.

"[The ruling] sends a very strong signal that women in Botswana cannot be discriminated against and that the days of women suffering from secondary status under the law in Botswana are drawing to an end," she said.

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