[JURIST] Mali President Amadou Toumani Toure [BBC profile] announced Wednesday that he will not sign a controversial law expanding women's rights, after objections by the country's High Islamic Council. The announcement followed a mass demonstration [JURIST report] against the law by various Muslim groups on Sunday. Initially passed by the National Assembly [official website, in French], the law grants women greater inheritance rights, raises the minimum age to marry to 18, and provides that wives are no longer required to obey their husbands. The law will now be sent back to parliament [AFP report] for further review. Toure is a supporter of the law [BBC report] and is hoping that further parliamentary review will help gain broader support from the country's predominately Muslim citizens.
Women's rights in Muslim countries have caused recent controversy. An Afghanistan law that restricts women's rights was criticized [JURIST report] by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] earlier this month, even after it was revised to remove a sexual submission in marriage provision that received international criticism. According to HRW, the revised law still allows a husband to withhold basic maintenance from his wife if she refuses his sexual demands, grants guardianship of children to males and requires women to get spousal permission to work. US President Barack Obama [official profile] called the original Afghanistan law "abhorrent," saying that respect for women and their freedom is an important principle [transcript text] that all nations should uphold.