The Liberia Law Society has been conducting series of training workshops in Nimba County on the newly adopted Land Rights Act and the Inheritance Law.
Since the enactment of the law, most citizens are yet to know the details, because there has been no interpretation or consultation from lawmakers, before the enactment.
These were concerns among the citizens, especially the male participants that those who drafted the Inheritance Law gave women more priorities or rights than their male counterpart. “There was no consultation before the adoption of this Inheritance Law, because, nearly all the laws were made in favor of women,” said Tokpah, a participant.
“The law is biased against men and it is based on western culture and did not take into consideration the African Culture,” he added.
The new act gives equal rights to the customary marriage law of 1998 which has governed the evolution of estates and rights of inheritance for spouses of both statutory and customary marriages.
The main focus was in chapter 2, from section 2.2, which prohibits the recovery of dowry from the wife’s parents, whenever the traditional dowry woman leaves her husband.
In section 2.3. it states, “Upon marriage, the customary wife shall be entitled to one – third of her husband’s personal property or real and vice versa regardless whether or not she helped him to acquire said properties, while section 2.6 said the woman’s property is exclusively her own, regardless of her being married.”
The new law warns that any man who should control or attempt to control his wife’s property or prevent her from operating her lawful business has committed a felony of second degree (theft of property).
The chiefs and elders attending the program have expressed concern about lack of consultations before the act was passed into law.
“If we were consulted, we would have modified these customary laws together. We were sidelined and everything in these inheritance laws that were done in favor of women,” one of the town chiefs said.
“This law was made, not taking into consideration the strength and responsibility of men, but they concluded men and women are equal,” one participant said.
The workshop funded by European Union (EU) was organized and implemented by LLS, CAFOD, DEN -L and it brought together chiefs, elders, civil society organizations, women, men, among others.