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9 laws that are *totally* sexist

As the well-known love song goes, sometimes it’s hard to be a woman, but, I’m not sure Tammy Wynette understood just *how* hard it could actually get…

Now, don’t get me wrong, huge progress has been made in the fight for equal rights, such as votes for women and in some parts of the world, governments that have equal representation, HOWEVER, there are still many obstacles in the way when it comes to achieving equality of the sexes.

Although the arguments about Men Vs Women are age old, sadly, some of the laws that have been used to divide the sexes aren’t.

Here, as part of our Poverty is Sexist campaign, we’ve compiled a list of totally sexist laws that currently discriminate against women:

1. In many countries, women’s words matter less than men’s


In some legal matters, the testimony of a woman is considered exactly half as valuable as that of a man’s in many countries.

2. Women can’t (currently) vote in Saudi Arabia or the Vatican City


I know, I thought we’d sorted this out in the 20th century too but it appears not! Although 2015 is going to be the first year that women can vote in Saudi Arabia, there are worries that many will not turn up to vote because…

3. Women in Saudi Arabia aren’t allowed to drive


Again, I know it feels like we’re going back to the dark ages, but this is a current Saudi law. There have been recent protests by a select group of women, who were imprisoned for defying the ban back in 2014. They were released from prison in February of this year, but there has been no move by the Saudi government to lift this ban.

4. Marital rape is NOT considered illegal in *lots* of countries


A 2011 UN Women’s report found that 127 countries do not explicitly criminalise rape within marriage. No words.

5. In Russia, Article 253 of the country’s Labor Code bars women from working in 456 types of work, including driving a train and being a professional sailor


One of the best ways for women to achieve gender equality is for them to be able to have the same access to their earning potential. Banning women from certain types of work will restrict their ability to fully integrate into a country’s workforce, which not only damages a woman’s personal economy, but can impact a country’s national economy too.

6. Women aren’t allowed to inherit the same amount as men


This is a problem all over the world, but , under customary law that is followed in many countries in Africa, at a man’s death, his property is either inherited by his adult sons or, if his children are minors, repossessed by his family. This means that women can be turfed out of their homes and lose rights to the land they have been farming for years. Situations like this lead to greater risk of poverty and disease for many widowed women.

7. Women can’t join the Marines in the UK


That’s right, women can’t join the Royal Marines. Their website states:

Jobs in the Royal Marines are only open to men.

However, women can join the Royal Marines Band Service. Well, phew. Hooray for equality…

8. Women aren’t allowed to work evening shifts in Madagascar


Women in Madagascar are not permitted to work anywhere at night unless it’s within their own family business. Now, this may sound like music to some peoples ears, but being able to work flexible shifts is key to a lot of women’s financial independence. What if you’re working to get yourself through school and your evenings are the only free time you have? This is a serious barrier to furthering your potential.

9. Women can’t ask for a divorce in Israel


In Israel, marriages and divorces sit under rabbinical law and women can’t ask for a divorce from their husbands unless they can prove that there is a reasonable justification, which is usually decided by external judges, whereas men are allowed to request a divorce for whatever reason they like.

Think that these laws are as sexist as we do? Sign up to our #PovertyIsSexist campaign and tell world leaders to put girls and women at the heart of the development agenda!

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