Algeria: “The Family Law, 20 years barakat*”

Association '20 ans barakat'
More information on the campaign that seeks to repeal the Family law - or personal status law - that has, since 1984, institutionalised the inferiority of Algerian women for the last 20 years.
It will soon be 20 years that the Family law has been enforced in Algeria.
This law concerning personal status has, since 1984, institutionalised the inferiority of one half of society with regard to the other. The equality between men and women is recognized by Article 29 of the Algerian Constitution yet the Family Law creates as second level of citizenship – a sub-citizenship of women which is expressed, among others, by: the obligation of all women to be under guardianship outside of marriage (art.11); that women have to obey their husbands as head of the family (art.39); divorce at the simple desire of the husband which is the same as repudiation (art.48); the automatic attribution of the house to the father if the parents should divorce (art.52); the impossibility for a woman to ask for divorce except in extreme circumstances (art.53); parental authority strictly invested in the father and refused to the mother (art.87); the impossibility for a female Muslim to marry a male non-Muslim (art.31); the recognition of polygamy (art.8); and the inequality of inheritance between men and women (art.126 to 183).

This law adds to the other unequal weapons in the arsenal of Algerian laws among which we find the Law of Nationality by which an Algerian woman may not pass on her nationality to her children; this may only happen through the male lineage.

This legislative web interwoven with injustices has allowed and supported the weakening of society as a whole and contributed to its fragmentation. The group massacres, the kidnappings and sexual enslavement to which thousands of women have been subjected for a dozen years, the mass rapes such as at Hassi Messaoud in July 2001, by citizens above all suspicion and all the daily extortions against the women of Algeria have nourished this law which officially places women at the mercy of men.

Maintaining these inequalities ridicules the principles of equality between peoples, injures half the population of Algeria and exposes them without any appeal to violent and mortal male practices. Maintaining these upside-down and counter-productive inequalities is to suffocate the vital core of society which is composed of women; men and children who deeply aspire to freedom and justice.

Repealing these unjust arrangements and replacing them with laws founded on the equality of the sexes would a start to the solution of the Algerian drama – recognizing the values of women would allow men and children to find their own values. It’s time to proclaim and establish the equality between man and women. It’s time to find the political courage to get this equality working. It’s time to stop the Family Law becoming 20 years old.

We appeal to you to participate in the campaign “The Family Law, 20 Years Barakat*”. This campaign is a part of the struggle which started as one of the first projects proposed to the National Assembly and which is still topical. Repealing this law is still a strong demand in Algeria. In fact, even in the worst years of the terror, not one 8th of March has passed without this being the demand of thousands of Algerian women.

It remains today to revive this struggle and join it together with initiatives that each one of us can bring about. It’s up to each individual, association, group or organisation that supports this demand of repealing the Family Law to adopt in their own way this campaign and to initiate their own activities and actions. The idea is to create a permanent ground swell which, of course, will be continued by different groups in Algeria but also in every country where this struggle finds an echo. The campaign, starting in 2003, could take different forms but the goal remains the repeal of the Family Law.

The Family Law, 20 years barakat*

*barakat = It’s Enough

Adresse : 2 rue Claude Bernard, Dijon, France.