The Equal Rights of the Customary Marriage Law of 1998 (the “Law”) repeals previous Liberian marriage laws and provides various rights and protections for women within the context of marriage. These include:
- Entitling a wife to one-third of her husband’s property (Section 2.3).
- Providing that a husband must respect his wife’s human rights (Section 2.5).
- Affirming that a wife’s property acquired before and during the marriage is exclusively hers; she can deal with this property in her own name as she sees fit without consent of her husband (Section 2.6(a)).
- Confirming that every woman has a right to marry a man of her choosing (Section 2.10).
- Entitling a wife to one-third of her husband’s property when her husband dies (Section 3.2).
- Entitling a widow to remain on the premises of her late husband (or to take another husband of her choice and vacate the late husband’s premises) (Section 3.3).
- Entitling a widow to administer her husband’s estate by making a petition to the probate court of their jurisdiction (Section 3.5).
The law also prohibits some of the common harmful practices towards wives, including: 1) husband taking a dowry from his wife or his wife’s parents (Section 2.2); 2) arranging for a girl under the age of 16 to be given in marriage to a man (Section 2.9); 3) compelling a widow to marry a member of her late husband’s family (Section 3.4(a)).