Does the differential criterion for vesting parental rights and responsibilities of unmarried parents violate international law? a legislative and social study of three African countries

24 Apr 2013

The right to non-discrimination for all children is established in international human rights law. International children’s rights law further provides for the common responsibility of parents for the maintenance of their children. African customary law and common law have always made a distinction between children born in and out of wedlock so far as the duty to maintain them is concerned. The resilience of this customary and common law approach is evident in statutory provisions of the countries discussed in this article. This is despite international obligations under children’s rights treaties ratified by these countries. On the face of it, the distinction of responsibility based on marital status seems harmless. However, in view of gender inequities and resource distribution between men and women in society, such a distinction has serious implications for the rights of affected children.