The Rivers State House of Assembly in 2019 passed into law the Rivers State Dehumanizing and Harmful Practice (Abolition ) (Amendment) bill , 2019. The law was passed to replaced Rivers State Dehumanizing and Harmful practice Abolition Law NO. 11 of 2003 .
The Rivers State Dehumanizing and Harmful Practices (Abolition) ( Amendment) law , 2019 Sought for stiffer penalties for Those who still engage in dehumanizing and Harmful traditional practices , especially in rural areas of the state. The law proscribes the maltreatment of women after the death of their husbands such as causing them to drink or bath water from the corpse of their husbands, being forced to abstain from personal hygiene, crying at guided intervals shaving of their hairs, ostracizing them, swearing before a shrine of their innocence, sitting on broken coconut, preventing them from inheriting their husbands property, amongst others. Therefore, the law aimed at stopping the abuse and exploitation of widows by addressing all the insignificant fractions in the principal law ( Rivers State Dehumanizing and Harmful Traditional practices ( Abolition ) Law , 2003 ) , thereby putting in place stiffer penalties and punishments for violators of women, s right , and to deter those who are still engaging in these Dehumanizing acts in the name of tradition. Hence defaulters for instance are made to face a two year jail term or an option of N 500,000 fine , as against the N 10,000 paltry sum as fine to defaulters as contained in the principal law which was not sufficient to discourage those engaged in such acts . Therefore, the penalty for offenders now carry heavier consequences to discourage intending offenders from indulging in such acts.
SECTION 1 provides for Dehumanizing and Harmful traditional practices thus:
1) No person shall:
(a) drink the water used in washing a corpse ;
(b) sleep on the same bed with a corpse or be locked in a room with a corpse;
(c) be naked during any period as a part of the burial rites ;
( d) sit on broken coconut parts or any harmful objects.
(2) A person who compels another person on the death of anyone to :
(a) shave the Hairs on any part of the body
(b) sit on the floor
(c) weep and wail loudly at guided intervals
(d) be re _ married by an in- law or step son.
(e) remain in seclusion after the death of a person .
( f) wear clothes of any any prescribed by color
( g) sleep on the floor or mat
(h) take a cold bath in the stream
( I) walk on bare feet .
( J) vacate the matrimonial home on the ground that there are no children or on whatever ground.
(k) put ashes on the body or head .
SECTION 2 . Provides for liability for offence this ;
(1) ” A person who contravenes section (1) commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of 2 years or a fine of N 500, 000.00 .
(2) ” A person who contravenes Section 1 (2) commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of 2 years or a fine of N 300, 000.00.
SECTION 3 provides for other offences thus;
(1) Any person who :
a ) discriminates ;
b) disinherits ;
c) humiliates ;
d) injures ;
e) tortures ;
f) traumatizes ;
a person on the ground that the person refused to perform any of the customs listed in Section 1 commits an offence and shall , on conviction; be liable to imprisonment for jail term of 2 years or a fine of N 300, 000.00.
SECTION 4 provided for proof before q juju shrine , etc thus ;
(4) ( 1) a person who compels another person to appear before a juju shrine , witch doctor, native doctor or occultist to prove innocence, commits an offence.
(2) A person who contravenes sub – section (1) shall on conviction , be liable to imprisonment for a term of 2 years or a fine of N 300,000.00.
(4) “A person who ;
a) attempt to contravenes any provision of this law commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for at term of one year or a fine of N 200,000,00.
( b) incites , aids , abets or counsels another person to contravene any provision of this law commits offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of one year or a fine of N 200, 000, 00.
SECTION 5 provides for the Enhanced punishment on subsequent Conviction thus;
(5) Any person , who , having being convicted of an offence under this law of aiding or abetting an offence, is again convicted of the same offence, shall , on every subsequent Conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term of 3 years without an option of fine.
SECTION 6 provides for integrity of all persons to be protected this;
6) The integrity of all human beings shall be protected and no person shall
(i) for any purpose be regarded as a property to be acquired by any person; and
(ii) deny any spouse who acquires a property his or her liberty to dispose of such property.
SECTION 7 provides for inheritance of property as provided for in the marriage Act cap 218LFN 1990, Wills Law cap 31 of 1987 and the Administration of Estates Law Cap 31 of 1987thus ;
(7) Subject to the provision of the marriage Acts , wills Law , and the Administration of Estates Law , a person shall not be dispossessed, on the death of a spouse , of any property acquired by the deceased spouse during the lifetime of the deceased spouse.