Côte d’Ivoire: Bill to Amend Marriage Law Approved

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08/09/2019

On March 27, 2019, the Council of Ministers of Côte d’Ivoire approved a bill that would substantially amend the country’s marriage law. It must now be presented to the Parliament, where, if adopted, it will become law following its promulgation by the President. The bill, which was drafted as part of a package of new laws in the areas of family and inheritance law, aims to encourage equality between men and women, particularly by curbing traditional practices that undermine the formal guarantee of equality set out in article 4 of the Ivorian Constitution. At the same time, however, the bill would explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage. The proposed law addresses two issues. One is that, under current law, men and women are considered capable of consenting to marriage at different ages: 20 for men and 18 for women. The other issue is that current law allows for underage persons to marry if granted a “dispensation” by the public prosecutor (Procureur de la République), a controversial loophole given the persistence of child marriage in Côte d’Ivoire, where over a quarter of women are married before their 18th birthday.

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