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Top 10 Insane Sexist Laws

Script written by Michael Wynands 
 These are the craziest sexist laws! Some you can’t believe exist. For this list, we’re looking at legislation from around the world that is either outdated or intentionally discriminatory against women. These laws don’t always need to be applied to be considered, they just need to be legally binding. Laws that have been recently overturned or are currently undergoing reform will still be considered, because, let's be honest, the fact that they were still in place until recently is still pretty hard to fathom. In some areas women can’t become truck drivers, women can’t drive, women can’t leave the house without permission, a woman only counts as half a witness in court and  Spousal Rape Isn’t Rape.

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Top 10 Craziest Sexist Laws

The legal system should not discriminate based on gender. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks the Top 10 Craziest Sexist Laws.

 For this list, we’re looking at legislation from around the world that’s either outdated or intentionally discriminatory against women. These laws don’t always need to be applied to be considered, they just need to be legally binding. Laws that have been recently overturned or are currently undergoing reform will still be considered, because, let's be honest, the fact that they were still in place until a short time ago is still pretty hard to fathom.

#10: Women Can’t Become Truck Drivers


Today, the number of countries in which gender based labor divisions are legally enforced are ever dwindling. But the problem persists. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, archaic laws about women in the workplace have been slow to change. In Belarus for example, a number of unsafe or seemingly “butch” industries were closed to women. The laws changed in 2014, however: while woman are no longer legally prevented from truck driving, in practice the idea still seems unlikely with old societal norms in place. In Central Asia, meanwhile, there are still hundreds of jobs that are off-limits to women.

#9: Women Couldn’t Drive

Saudi Arabia

 Forget about driving to earn a living,  for many years in Saudi Arabia, women weren’t allowed to drive - period. It’s not that they were legally prohibited from driving exactly… the government simply refused to issue licenses to women. In September 2017, after decades of protest from various groups dating back to 1990, King Salman announced that this archaic ban would be lifted, stating that the government would start issuing licenses to women as of June 2018. Though this is a step in the right direction, it's a step very late in the game, in light of just how long it took for the government to acquiesce to this reasonable request.

#8: Wives Need Permission to Travel


Most functional couples would discuss travel plans with their spouse before jetting off or hitting the road. After all, there are finances involved and a host of shared responsibilities. That’s just basic relationship 101. But as there exist places where all travel requires husband approval, or wives are considered inferior or as property, then it’s clear that not all nations and cultures are playing from the same relationship playbook. Case in point: Iran, where the subjugation of women remains rampant, and where any married woman needs permission from her husband to leave the country. Should she be unmarried, a father’s permission may be required – regardless of their age and despite holding a passport.

#7: Women Can’t Leave the House Without Permission


Requiring male approval to travel is bad enough, but what if that husband’s authority limited your movements to your home, and you literally couldn’t leave the property without his permission? As Guardian journalist Rachel Cooke discovered in 2008 after speaking with Yemeni women, that's exactly the case in this Middle Eastern county. Wives are, effectually, the property of their husbands. There are groups fighting such patriarchal laws, but in Yemen, which has been called the worst country in the world for women’s rights, that battle is an uphill one.

#6: A Woman Only Counts as Half a Witness in Court


As previously alluded to, Yemen holds an unfortunately well-earned reputation of placing the harshest of laws and legalities on women. For example, in a court of law, a woman’s testimony is weighted to be only half as important as that of man’s and even then, is only valid if corroborated by a male citizen. A Yemeni woman is literally not recognized as a full person within the legal system. Worse yet, in cases involving adultery or retribution, women will not be allowed to testify at all. Even when they have a stake in the matter, the value of their words, in the eyes of the court, is reduced to zero.

#5: Spousal Rape Isn’t Rape


It wasn't so long ago that western countries shared this idea – it took until 1993 to make spousal rape a crime in the United States. But in countries like India however, it persists. Despite efforts to outlaw it, there is a strong effort within the government to stop such laws protecting women from being passed. The government’s lawyers suggested that it could become “an easy tool for harassing husbands”. India isn’t the only country where marital rape is allowed, but the current debate – and the efforts made to keep it in place – have certainly placed the country into the spotlight.

#4: Rapists Can Claim Parental Rights

United States

Rape, as it should be, is illegal in America. But, rapists are still entitled to some rights that might make your stomach churn. If there’s a scenario more psychologically painful than being sexually assaulted, it must be to discover that you have been made pregnant by an act of violence against your body. Should you choose to carry the child to term and raise the child, imagine the shock of receiving a notice that the party who raped you… is claiming joint custody. To force a woman to co-parent a child with their rapist is unconscionable, but in seven American states, it’s still an option available to the convicted.

#3: Girls Can Be Married as Young as 10


The term “child bride” is something we tend to associate with medieval times and other bygone eras, but it is an unfortunate reality even in our world today. While most countries list the age of consent as being anywhere between 15 and 21, the eligible age of marriage is dictated by the ambiguous term “puberty” in South Sudan. What this means in the real world application, is that girls as young as 10 years of age can be married off. Sadly this is the case in not just Sudan, but in various countries where religious doctrine can dictate the age of consent.


#2: Rape Victims Can Be Found Guilty

Saudi Arabia & United Arab Emirates

Rape is an unspeakable thing to happen to a person, but to have it happen and have no legal support is unthinkable. But, in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, accusing a man of rape can trigger a series of laws and legal loopholes that make the female the criminal party. In the Qatif rape case, a teen girl and her male companion were sentenced to 6 months in prison and 90 lashes after she was gang-raped, because the pair weren't married to each other. In 2016, meanwhile, a British tourist in Dubai was threatened with prison time after reporting having been gang-raped on the grounds that she partook in “extra-marital sex”.

#1: Killing a Woman in the Name of Honor Is a Lesser Crime


 Typically, “honor killing” refers to the murder of a family member or spouse on the grounds that the victim has brought shame to the family or house, or dishonored the patriarch somehow. As many have argued, such as humanitarian activist Yara al-Wazir, honor killings don’t actually have a justification within the Quran or Islamic Law. And yet, they persist in certain Islamic countries, most notably Jordan. There, under articles 340 and 98, the murderers can receive lesser sentences if the crime was committed on the grounds of honor. The government has since cracked down on honor killings, but the provisions remain in place as of 2017.


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