Colombia scraps century-old paternity law
BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) -- Colombia's Constitutional Court this week
struck down a law banning mothers-to-be, whether divorced or separated from
their partners, from remarrying before they give birth.
Under the law, which dated back to a 19th century civil code, pregnant
whose marriages had been annulled -- and even those who were widows -- had
to give birth before they could marry again.
It also established a 270-day "waiting period" for women who wanted to
remarry, even if they
swore they were not bearing a child, just to make sure they showed "no signs of pregnancy."
But in a ruling late on Wednesday, the Constitutional Court said the law,
originally designed to ensure child paternity rights, violated the rights of women.
"This was an irrational law and it violated women's rights," said court
Antonio Barrera Carbonell.
"The purpose of this law was to dispel doubts about the paternity, but
scientific tests can determine that. It was obsolete and belonged to the 19th
As in most Latin American countries, Colombia's women have long been subject
to discrimination and less than equal treatment in a society dominated by men
who pride themselves on their machismo.
The Andean nation had the dubious honor of being the last country in the
hemisphere, after Paraguay, to grant voting rights to women in the 1950s.
Copyright 2000 Reuters.