Yemen - The Personal Status Act No. 20 of 1992 - Equality Now

Yemen - The Personal Status Act No. 20 of 1992

  • Country: Yemen
  • Law status: Discriminatory law in force
  • Law Type: Marriage, Divorce, Polygamy & Wife Obedience

Sex discrimination in marital status laws renders women and girls subordinate in many aspects of family relations before, during and after marriage.

Article 23 of the Personal Status Act also requires express consent to marriage only if the woman has been previously married. For previously unmarried women, (considered ‘virgin’), silence is sufficient to indicate consent to marriage. This makes women and girls vulnerable to being forced into marriage. 

Article 23. The consent of the woman to marriage is required, silence is the indication of consent of a virgin to marriage. The consent of a previously married woman should be expressed [at the time of re-marriage].

Article 40 of Yemen’s Personal Status Act No. 20 of 1992 mandates a wife’s obedience to her husband, including by restricting her movements outside the marital home and by requiring her to have sexual intercourse with him.

Article 40. A husband has the right to be obeyed by his wife in the interest of the family, especially in regard to the following:

1. She must move with him to the conjugal home, unless she has stipulated in the marriage contract that she must remain in her own home or her family’s home, in which case she must permit him to live with her and have access to her;

2. She must permit him to have legitimate intercourse with her when she is fit to do so;

3. She must obey him and refrain from disobedience, and perform her work around the conjugal home, as other women do;

4. She must not leave the conjugal home without his permission, unless for a legitimate excuse or one commonly regarded as not prejudicial to honor or to her duties towards him. She may especially go out to attend to her property interests or to perform a mutually agreed job that does not conflict with Islamic law. A legitimate excuse would be for the woman to take care of her frail parents if she is the only one available to care for either or both of them.

Link to Full Law


Article 41 of the Constitution of Yemen: Citizens are all equal in rights and duties.

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