Nepal's Supreme Court rules women do not need husband

Women under 35 will no longer need their parent or husband's consent to apply for a passport in Nepal, after the Supreme Court ordered an end to the discriminatory practice, the court said Tuesday. Supreme Court Judges Badri Kumar Basnet and Balram K.C. issued the order on Monday saying the practice was unfair as men did not have to follow the same procedure, the court said in a statement. "This provision is against the equal rights guaranteed to women by the constitution," the judges said in their ruling. The court has ordered the Prime Minister's office, the Home Ministry and the Women and Children's Welfare Ministry to end the practice immediately. The law had been enforced by Nepal as a measure to prevent young women being trafficked to India. Thousands of women are trafficked to India every year and forced to work in brothels, according to women's groups.

Women's rights activists hailed the court ruling as a victory for women in Nepal.

"The previous practice discriminated against women since it robbed them of their right to mobility and to self determine," Sapana Pradhan Malla, founder and president of the Forum for Women, Law and Development, said.

"The state had failed to treat men and women equally," she said. Men and women are guaranteed equality under Nepal's constitution, but in practice, like much of South Asia, it remains a male-dominated society.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ordered the government to ban the tradition of forcing women into seclusion during their monthly periods, calling it discriminatory and an "evil practice,” reports the AP. I.L.

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