Justice Baffour writes on 'Property rights of women during divorce in polygamous marriages'

Justice Baffour writes on 'Property rights of women during divorce in polygamous marriages'
Source: Eric K. Baffour, Justice of the High Court
Date: 12-12-2019 Time: 08:12:14:am
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Article 7 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Women’s Protocol or otherwise referred to as the Maputo Protocol has been signed and ratified by Ghana.

It calls for the enactment of appropriate legislation to ensure that women enjoy the same rights in the event of separation, divorce or annulment of marriage in the same manner as men. It also demands States to ensure an equitable distribution of properties jointly acquired during the subsistence of the marriage. And so also is article 18(3) of the African Charter for Human and People’s Rights (African Charter) which states that “the State shall ensure the elimination of every discrimination against women and also ensure the protection of the rights of the woman and the child as stipulated in international declarations and conventions”. 

Some of the international declarations and conventions alluded to in this paper are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

One area that one thinks is embraced in all the international conventions and protocols that Ghana has signed on to is the rights of women to equitable share to properties in customary law marriages, which is polygamous, when there is divorce.

Polygamy connotes an array of plural or different types of marriages that permits multiple relationships.  According to  Martinuk there are three main types of polygamy. The first is polygyny, which is a marriage relationship where multiple women are married to one man as their spouse at the same time.

The second type of polygamy is polyandry which permits one woman to be married to multiple men. This is known to be practised among some native tribes in the Amazon forest. The third type of polygamy is polyamory, being a type of marriage where the couple rejects the exclusivity of sexual relationship. This form of polygamy could take the form of group marriage with a combination of both polygyny and polyamory.

Read the full article by the High Court judge below.