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Men Lose 'Sole Head of the Family' Legal Status in Cote d'Ivoire

Despite objections by religious leaders, parliament gives women equal responsibility over households and children.
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Cote d'Ivoire has overwhelmingly adopted a new policy that allows women equal rights when it comes to household responsibilities and children; however, many citizens fear that the policy will undermine the more-traditional structure of society in the West African state.

Although President Alassane Ouattara opposed amending the existing law, a 213-10 vote by the country's parliament approved the policy change, permitting both spouses to have equal responsibility in managing the household and caring for children. According to IRIN, the law previously stated "that the husband was the sole head of the family."

But IRIN also reports that both Christian and Muslim religious leaders oppose the new policy. Imam Mamadou Dosso, secretary-general of the National Islamic Council, told IRIN that Islam "recognizes the man as the sole head of the family."

Ediémou Blin Jacob, president of the Church of Christ Celestial in Cote d'Ivoire, said the law would divide the country's people because the policy was not consistent with "the instructions of God."

CT previously reported on how anti-French violence caused missionaries to pull out of the country in 2005, following violence by Muslim rebels in 2003 and post-election violence in 2001.

December
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