Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Julius Rwabinumi v. Hope Bahimbisomwe Court of Appeals of Uganda (2008)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

A husband appealed from a divorce proceeding ordering that the divorcing parties share various properties accumulated during the marriage (Ground No. 4). He contended that his wife (the respondent) had no right to such property because she did not produce evidence to prove her contribution to the acquisition of such property. The issues are whether there is an established legal formula for division of property after divorce, and whether spousal contribution plays a role in such division. After reviewing the traditional approach accounting for spousal contribution, the court found that the enactment of the 1995 Constitution drastically changed the wife’s legal position and rights after divorce. Specifically, Article 31(1) provides equal rights to husband and wife during marriage and dissolution. Thus, the court found that marital property jointly belonged to the husband and wife, and thus contribution to the property is irrelevant. Notwithstanding the parties’ right to freely contract prior to a marriage agreement, the court found that, upon dissolution, matrimonial property ought to be divided equally and shared “to the extent possible and practicable”.

Cour d'appel de Douai 1re chambre civile, 17 novembre 2008, No. 08/03786 Cour d'appel de Douai (Chambre Civile) (2008)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

The Prosecutor appealed a marriage annulment granted by the lower court. A husband had requested the annulment on the grounds that his wife had deceived him regarding her virginity. The lower court had granted this annulment citing the wife's consent to the annulment as proof of her belief that her virginity was an essential determinant of her husband's consent to marriage. The Court of Appeals granted the appeal and rejected the marriage annulment, stating that a lie that does not concern an "essential quality" is not good grounds for the annulment of a marriage.  The alleged deception focused on the wife's virginity, the absence of which has no impact on married life. The alleged resulting violation of "mutual confidence" had no effect upon the validity of the marriage. Furthermore, the Court of Appeals stated that the marriage could not be annulled for a deception regarding the wife's virginity as this would go against the principles of public policy.

Le procureur a fait appel d’une annulation accordé par la cour inférieure. Un époux a demandé l’annulation pour la raison que son épouse l’a déçu concernant sa virginité. La cour inférieur a accordé l’annulation, en citant le consentement de l’épouse envers l’annulation comme preuve qu’elle croyait que sa virginité était un facteur essential menant son époux à la marier. La cour d’appel a accordé l’appel, rejetant l’annulation. La cour a déclaré qu’une mensonge ne concernant pas un qualité essentiel n’est pas une bonne base pour une annulation. La deception alleguée avait comme focus la virginité de l’épouse, l’absence de laquelle n’a aucun impact sur la vie conjugale. La violation de la confiance mutuelle allegué, resultant de cette mensonge, n’a aucun effet sur la validité du marriage. De plus, la cour d’appel a déclaré qu’un marriage ne peut être annulé en raison d’une mensonge concernant la virginité de l’épouse puisque ceci irait contre la politique publique.