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Everyone must be equal under the law: Civil Code drafters propose

Mr Seumsouk Simmavong represents the drafting subcommittee to clarify NA queries on stipulations in the draft of the Civil Code. – Photo Somxay

Law drafters have proposed that all Lao people, in all regions of the country must be equal under the law, with gender equality included in this regard.
The drafting subcommittee of the Civil Code made the proposal in response to suggestions of National Assembly (NA) members at their debate on the draft of the Civil Code yesterday.
The stipulation in this code regarding the duty of mutual responsibility between a couple (man and woman) if one side wants to leave after being involved in a sexual relationship before getting married, was a hot topic at the debate with many female NA members suggesting women should not have the burden of responsibility, claiming girls are always taken advantage of.

The NA members also referred to customary practices in the past, pointing out that women had no duty to do so only men.
Female NA members’ voices were divided as some recognised the harm which they believed could affect both men and women if one side left the relationship.
In his explanation, Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr Seumsouk Simmavong, on behalf of the drafting subcommittee, noted that the stipulation in this code was almost the same as in Article No.8 of the Family Law which is being promulgated.
However, he said, the problem was newly added paragraphs such as a man forced to compensate a woman if he wanted to leave her after having a sexual relationship (but not officially married), and the woman had to do the same if she wanted to leave the man.
“These new paragraphs were included as we wanted to stress gender equality. The case of a woman compensating a man has not happened in the past but we have to include this if such problems occur in future,” Mr Seumsouk said.
Many other NA members expressed agreement given the current changes in Lao society, pointing out there were a number of cases of women casually leaving men after a joint life without marriage. Engagement was another stipulation in the code that divided NA members as some wanted to include it into the code while others disagreed.
At the debate on the draft of the Civil Code, some Assembly members referred to local examples in family relations to express their disagreement with many stipulations in the code.
The drafting subcommittee also stressed the requirements for international integration when writing the code.
“Each province, each ethnic group has different customs but they have to respect the laws as they all are citizens of Laos,” the drafting subcommittee representative said.

By Somxay Sengdara
(Latest Update December 7, 2018)