African mother baby-by UNFPA Sawiche WamunzaThe Botswana High Court overturned a customary law which prevented women from inheriting the family home, calling it  “an unacceptable system of male domination.”

65 year-old Edith Mmusi and her two sisters have fought a five-year legal battle against their nephew who said he was the rightful owner of their house.

The judge ruled on October 12 that the law contravened the constitution, which guarantees equality for men and women.

“In my view the exclusion of women from heirship is consistent with the logic of patriarchy, which reserves for women positions of subservience and subordination,” said High Court Justice Key Dingake. “Such exclusion does not only amount to degrading treatment, but constitutes an offense against human dignity.”

The Attorney General representing the government of Botswana argued that though the inheritance law was discriminatory, the “public mood” did not yet support its repeal.

Regional human rights campaigners expressed hope that the case would not only be a landmark in Botswana, but also set a precedent for surrounding countries grappling with similar issues. The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa described it as “a huge boost to the struggle for gender equality.”

Edith Mmusi hailed the case as “a great day for us.”

(READ the story from the BBC)

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