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Legal experts lobby for marriage equality

Experts yesterday called for greater equality for women to be reflected in amendments to the Law on Marriage and Family.

The conference was held in Hanoi by the Centre for Law and Policy Research to consult with lawyers, notaries and women’s associations on amendments to the current Law.

Legal experts agreed that the current Law on Marriage and Family, which was issued in 2000, ensured some level of women’s and children’s rights, but still showed limitations exposed during its 13 years of implementation.

Currently, the law is not equipped to resolve issues pertaining to women and foreign men, same-sex couples, fake marriages and divorce proceedings.

The current law’s implementation has faced difficulties arising from outdated perceptions valuing men above women and customs in some localities which do not properly address issues relating to women and children.

Tran Thi Mai Huong, deputy chairwoman of the Vietnam Association for Protection of Children’s Rights, said clearer regulations on healthcare and legal protection were needed to reflect the reality of marriages in Vietnam.

She also said that provisions on separation needed to be added, as only two options were available for resolving disputes (mediation and divorce), when in reality, many couples preferred legal separation as the best outcome for their dispute.

“Some couples do not want to divorce to avoid negative impacts on children, however, living together with unresolved issues led to household violence and women are the victims,” she said.

A study by the Centre for Law and Policy Research on more than 100 divorce requests sent to the Hoa Binh City People’s Court, between 2008 and 2012, showed that half the requests were due to household violence.

Director of the centre Le Thi Ngan Giang said the law needed clearer provisions on the division of assets, given marital property often made it difficult for lawyers proceeding with divorce requests.

Experts also found the law did not contain detailed rules for unmarried couples living together, with women often facing disadvantages in legal disputes.

“With the addition, the law will be more compatible with real life and promote the rights of women,” said Giang.

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