Earlier this week I posted on the incongruous pouring of outrage in the Malian capital of Bamako on the matter of women’s equality.
The new family law, which would slacken the grip of patriarchy and place women on an almost equal standing with men vis-à-vis parental rights, as well as raising the age of marriage to 18, drew 50,000 protesters to the main stadium for a mass venting of the spleens.
The legislation was in its final stages, awaiting only the go-ahead of the country’s leader, President Amadou Toumani Toure.
But it seems the voices of 50,000 objectors bore more of an impact than the vision of positive progress attainable through the change, as Toure has refused to ratify the bill.
His justification is weak and smacks not of religious piety, but of cowardice:
I have taken this decision… to ensure calm and a peaceful society, and to obtain the support and understanding of our fellow citizens.
It is interesting to note that while the protesters cited Islam as the crux of their argument against the family law – it has been branded “the work of the devil” and “against Islam” – the President falls upon the line of domestic security.
Security. Peace. Support and understanding.
All things that women deserve and that the President has swiped away in one action.
The law promised something beautiful: in addition to the aforementioned clauses, women would no longer be required to obey their husbands; rather husbands and wives would have owed each other loyalty and protection.
That, one might argue, is also the duty of the President.
And he has failed upon that quite magnificently.