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Gender and Land Rights Database

Nigeria

Discrepâncias e vazios entre direito escrito e leis consuetudinárias

  • Although the Married Women’s Property Act of 1882 gives women married under statutory law the right to acquire, hold or dispose of property and the Matrimonial Causes Act provides that they have a share of family property in the event of divorce on equity grounds, women are unable to enforce property rights in a court of law because of ignorance of such rights, lack of financial security and the fear of antagonizing their in-laws. 
  • Women married under customary law do not have equal rights in matters of marriage, dissolution, inheritance and right of property (11).
  • Women can own land if they buy, inherit or are given it by their husbands; however, they lose the right to farm lands upon divorce (21).
  • Although statutory laws exist to outlaw some of the many discriminatory customary and religious practices, such as female genital mutilation or purdah, in practice, enforcement is negligible (5).
  • Although women might inherit property from their deceased husband through statutory law, in most cases, property is distributed among the husband’s dependants in accordance with the customary law applicable to him before he died (18).
  • Although Section 21 of the Child’s Rights Act stipulates 18 years as the minimum age for marriage and betrothal and outlaws the arbitrary fixing of age of marriage under customary and traditional practices, early marriage is still practised. The absence of a fixed age of marriage in the Marriage Act and the Matrimonial Causes Act exacerbates the situation (11).
  • Statutory law, in some instances, reinforces discriminatory customary provisions. For instance, Section 55[1][d] of the Penal Code, applicable in the northern part of the country, allows a man to beat his wife for the purpose of correction. Moreover, Sections 353 and 360 of the Criminal Code Act (CCA) of Southern Nigeria consider an indecent assault on females a lesser offence, a misdemeanour, while similar assaults on males are felonies (5).


Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography