eSwatini High Court has ruled that the existing common-law doctrine, which denies women power over marital assets without their husbands’ consent, is discriminatory and limits women’s rights.
Written by Africa Times
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre is celebrating a significant victory for married women in eSwatini, after the country’s high court ruled Friday that the existing common-law doctrine discriminates against women and denies their constitutional rights to equality.
“Marital power refers to the archaic common law doctrine that a husband has the ultimate right to decide over his wife and the matrimonial property,” the SALC explained. “The doctrine of marital power means that a married woman cannot deal with the marital assets without the knowledge and consent of her husband, yet her husband can do so without seeking and obtaining her approval.”
Essentially, the SALC said, the doctrine limited women’s legal rights so severely that they live as if under guardianship. Interestingly, the eSwatini court relied on recent judgments in Botswana and India on the legality of same-sex relationships to conclude that the dignity of women in eSwatini marriages was being denied them.