Africa

Nigeria anger as Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill fails

  • 16 March 2016
  • From the section Africa
Nigeria human rights activists Bukky Shonibare Image copyright Bukky Shonibare
Image caption Human rights activist Bukky Shonibare says she is disappointed and ashamed by the decision

Nigeria's Senate has been condemned for rejecting a proposed bill aimed at eliminating "all forms of discrimination" against women.

Rights activists say the bill would promote women's equality in marriage, inheritance and education.

But some lawmakers voiced opposition, saying the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill is not compatible with Nigerian culture and religious beliefs.

Others said the constitution already recognises the rights of everyone.

In Islam, women get half of men's share in inheritance and it is unacceptable for anyone to change that, a Muslim senator told the BBC.

One Christian lawmaker also quoted some sections of the bible to condemn the bill.

But the Senate's decision to throw out the bill has been widely condemned.

Human rights activist Bukky Shonibare says it was a sad day for Nigerian women.

"It shows how backward we are and how much we want to hold on to our lopsided religious and cultural beliefs," she told the BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme.

It is unfortunate that some men who see the emancipation of women as a threat are the ones being trusted with making laws and order, she added.

"Every Senator that voted against the bill should hide in shame," said prominent actress Uche Jombo.

Some activists have started circulating a petition urging the Senators to reconsider.

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