The Executive Director for African Women Lawyers Association, (AWLA) Edna Kuma is accusing male parliamentarians of using their dominance in the house to thwart the passage of the Intestate Succession Bill. The bill which was first laid in parliament in 2009 is now at its consideration stage, expected to be passed into law.
However, the Constitutional Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament which prepared the report want further consultations before its passage. Ms Kuma, speaking in an interview with Citi News said the passage of the bill has been delayed because the male parliamentarians do not fully appreciate the concerns of women in this regard.
She said "on a larger ground, Parliament is male dominated and the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee is male dominated. Then there is the male chauvinism. This is not a fight between men and women. Don't they have wives and daughters? If the law is not there to defend the women, what can they do?"
Even though the bill is not gender specific, it appears the fight for the passage of the bill is geared towards concern for women because according to Ms Kuma, "women are mostly at the receiving end" when their spouses die intestate.
"Let's face it the men have been more educated than the women; they have had more properties than the women. We understand the man doesn't want to lose his property, but if somebody assisted you to acquire it, isn't it nice that if you died, that person should also get some?
"Women are really vulnerable and if things are not properly put in place, it worsens their case. Men are generally able to handle things their way. When their wives die, men are sometimes shy of taking over the property or take it anyway and the family of the dead woman cannot say anything. But when it is the other way round, the family members do all sorts of things to her; and that is where the problem is.
A lot of women are not informed about their rights too. That is what we want everything to be in place to protect the women. Women are almost always at the receiving end".
Rather than hinder the passage of the bill with their dominance, Ms Kuma stated that they ought to use their powers to facilitate the passage since in her opinion, "the state is making people more responsible for their actions".
AWLA and another organization LAWA-Ghana Alumnae Incorporated are calling for the immediate passage of the Intestate Succession Bill because according to them, it is being deliberately delayed.
At a press conference addressed by chairperson of AWLA, Sheila Minkah-Premo, she accused members of the committee of "attempting to put negative views and barriers in the minds of people on the provisions of this progressive law".
She added "there appears to be a trend in parliament where there is a reluctance to enact any Bill that has gender undertones, like the domestic Violence Bill, and to delay the passage of such bills is unnecessarily." She is therefore calling for the immediate passage of the bill without any further delay.
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