Grounds for a divorce under the new family law, particularly whether spousal abuse is a ground for divorce; rights of women regarding property and custody upon divorce [ETH37739.E]

Information further to that provided in Country Reports 2000 is scarce.

A 2 January 2001 APF report quoting the Daily Monitor, an Ethiopian newspaper, states that the new Ethiopian family law, which was approved by parliament in July 2000, was promulgated on 1 January 2001. The report also mentions that under the new legislation men and women will be placed "on an equal footing in cases of disputes."

In a 25 October 2000 interview with the Ethiopian newspaper The Reporter, the president of the Ethiopian Women Lawyer's Association (EWLA), Meaza Ashenafi, stated that:

The new family law has eliminated all the discriminatory features of the 1960 Code. Joint administration of common property is achieved, the husband is not the head of the family any more, women living in a relationship short of concluding a formal marriage are entitled to share common property, women and children have the right to remain in the matrimonial home during pending divorce and the family arbitration is eliminated as a legal institution just to mention few of the victories.
The fight was extended to the last minute. There were two points we demanded to be included in the reformed law. These are the automatic right of custody of mothers for children under 5. And the other is the right of women to share pension benefits upon divorce, if that is the only resource on which the family depends. I haven't had the opportunity to see the final version of the draft. But, we hope to see these two points in the new law. The important role-played by the women's committee at parliament in organizing successive discussion forums after the release of the draft law was encouraging. The Government should also be proud in having created the enabling environment for NGOs like EWLA to facilitate public participation in governance. The indispensable role of the media and that of the international development partners is to be acknowledged as well.

However, according to an editorial published in the 12 September 2001 issue of The Reporter, the Ethiopian authorities have attempted to suspend the activities of the EWLA.

No further and corroborating information on grounds for a divorce under the new Ethiopian family law, particularly whether spousal abuse is a ground for divorce; rights of women regarding property and custody upon divorce, and a copy of the new family legislation, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 2 January 2001. "New Law Advances Rights of Women in Ethiopia." (NEXIS)

The Reporter [Addis Ababa]. 12 September 2001. Vol. 4, No. 262. Mohammed Abdel Kadir. "Shooting the Messenger." [Accessed 13 September 2001]

_____. 25 October 2000. The Personal is the Political." Vol. 4, No. 216. [Accessed 7 Sept. 2001]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases

Internet sources including:

Islamic Family Law. "Legal Profiles - Ethiopia." Sponsored by the Ford Foundation.

Relief Web

UK Home Office. April 2001. Country Assessment - Ethiopia. Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND)

World News Connection (WNC)

Oral sources:

The EWLA could not provide the requested information within the research time limits.

Search engines: