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Mali's controversial family code approaches passage

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In the summer of 2009, the parliament of Mali passed a revision of the family code. Powerful Muslim leaders and organizations were angered by sections of the new code which would have established 18 years as the minimum age for marriage, made secular authorities the only persons capable of performing legal marriages, and expanded women’s property and inheritance rights. Mass protests, including a rally in Bamako that reportedly attracted as many as 50,000 people, soon convinced President Amadou Toumani Toure to shelve the law. Debate flared up again over the code in the spring of 2010, including among Muslim leaders.

In October 2010, the code was once more ready to go before parliament. A group in the National Assembly, in consultation with the High Islamic Council of Mali (one of the groups that had objected previously), made modifications which the Council accepted, but which civil society groups denounced. No code, apparently, will achieve consensus in Malian society.

Fast forward to summer 2011, and the code may be moving toward passage. One Malian paper (Fr) says that on June 23, the National Assembly delayed consideration of the code until the next session. Lawmakers feared that going ahead with a version that is still deeply contested would provoke a backlash.

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