Namibia: Women now free from apartheid marriage law

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Hundreds of thousands of married women in Namibia will begin to have access to inheritance after the deaths of their husbands, after amendments were made to an aparthied marriage law.

Yvonne Dausab, Chairperson of the Namibian Law Reform and Development Commission, said the proposed amendment will see more than half of the country’s married women in the northern part of the country being able to access their inheritance.

According to the Namibian Statistics Agency, more than half of the population lives in the northern part of Namibia.

“The Redline Marriage Act disadvantaged women, who were married in the northern regions of the country, from accessing any properties accumulated during their marriages, as their marriages were not recognised as in community of property as those done in Windhoek for example.

“This is a piece of legislation that was created in the colonial era and affected almost over half of the Namibian married population,” she said.

Dausab added that the obsolete bill disadvantaged black women by preventing them from inheriting properties when their spouses died, while it did not have an effect on the white women.

“The challenge is that some of the women, who were married in the northern part of the country did not even know that their marriages did not entitle them to access the accumulated wealth during the marriage,” she said.

The new marriage law, Dausab said, will empower both the women and men to be in community of property when they marry.

The Law Reform and Development Commission, a government commission established in 1992 in Namibia, creates reports making recommendations for legal reforms.

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