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Should African women 'obey' their men?

AfricaHYS Team | 17:40 UK time, Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A study by the South African Medical Research Council has revealed that nine out of ten men believe that a woman should obey her husband. 

The research also shows that six out of ten women agree with that statement. Do you?

In Mali a proposal to change the law, so that women need no longer obey their husbands, is still causing controversy and is awaiting  parliamentary review. 

The Oxford English dictionary definition of the word "obey" is "to submit to the authority of, to carry out a command or instruction".  But does this word cause more problems than it solves? 

Aren't modern relationships more about listening, respecting and negotiating?

Is the continent still struggling with the changing role of women?   

If you would like to debate this topic LIVE on air on  Wednesday December 01 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published


  • Comment number 1.

    The way forward is not about parliamentary legislations as we understanding it in Mali. Overcoming the problem speaks to one of the many things that are self-evolving as a result of wide spread standard education. With education men will understand and cherish the values of their women and women on the other hand will rise above any such acts of irrelevant obeisance. Rather than posing the question as if it is entirely African, the BBC holds a responsibility to let its African listeners know that the practice has been common in every human community be it England, Germany or the United States.

  • Comment number 2.

    In a typical African marriage,men demand obedience from their wife. First, the basic role of the man being the breadwinner gave him that control. Second, since women are now given equal opportunities in modern African societies, the role of both in the family have changed. They both contribute significantly to the running of the home. Consequently it will be logically wrong for men to still demand complete obedience from the women folk. Most important, its a Biblical injunction that women will submit to the authority of the husband ... but if carried far, it comes with a condition that husbands provides for the family and the wife. Having laid this background, it is more realistic that both parties exist in more of an agreement rooted in understanding, tolerance and mutual respect.

  • Comment number 3.

    It depends on the situation. Traditionally, and biblically women are asked to be submissive to their husbands. But a situation were a man forces a woman to do something impeding social norms, and moral values, something that could cause perpetual ridicule to either heror any other person, then I absolutely object to that sort of obedience. A woman is a helper to the man, not a slave.
    Although we've been seeing, reading and hearing so many campaigns for gender equality and women empowerment but I must say, it's something very difficult to achieve in Africa that rarely recognises the importance of the woman in handling some high offices. Well, Africa is responding gradually to these campaigns, that's why we have female president, governors and politicians, but to surrender in totality everything to the women, is something that I consider a mirage.
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 4.

    The statement that women should obey their men is true but that should not end there, men should also show some respect to their men. The authority of men in the house should never be trampled upon by women. This should not mean that men should see women as 'doormats' to be used anyway, anyhow respect must be given to them. The views of women should be taken into consideration by men.
    Above all, women should respect themselves and raise themselves to a level where they would be respected by others.

  • Comment number 5.

    Women are to obey thier husbands. My views are based on the biblical teaching , "that wives submit to your husbands". When a woman is under the control of a man she gets much respect and admiration in a society. I m not saying the single or divorced women have no respect and admiration. Today women, stand up to get equal rights only so that the abuse of thier gender is minimised, but not to be without a male presence and that "macho control".
    Male conterparts in the workplace have come to see women as capable equals nowadays, as against the past, when women were treated as second class and substandard.
    In countries that women groups are fighting for change in legislation I appluade thier strfe, but it is not an easy task.Goodluck to them, but men will still be respected and given thier rightful place in the home. Men have no fears.

  • Comment number 6.

    Women should obey their husbands as from cultural point of view in Africa generally. In where i come from, men pay lot of cows as dowery for you to have a wife and if she comes and start disobeying the husband than things will not go on well domestically.

  • Comment number 7.

    It would be great if everyone would try and speak from their own experience, or frame of reference. I think too often many of us believe that what our experiences are shared and in common with the entire continent. Africa is the most diverse continent genetically, linguistically, religiously and socially. Let's be careful not to make too many generalisations.
    Also, it is only ignorance that relates African traditions with bibilical teachings. With the exception of Northeastern Africa, the continent was only introduced to Christianity in the last century. For many of us, it was the generation of our parents or grandparents that fully accepted Christianity and converted. One cannot therefore explain marital roles and responsibilities in the traditional African context by referring the Bible.

  • Comment number 8.

    We the women do agree that we obey the men(husbands).But is it a one way affair?I think it is a give and take affair!I will obey because what you say is reasonable to be obeyed.But do men also obey their "wives?" Most men always want to be authoritative and apply the power and politics tactics on women and enen in the home.everything should be base on consensus and understanding so men should relax on the "obey" syndrome.

  • Comment number 9.

    To begin with, it is the primary duty of a woman to obey her husband and the primary of duty of a man in a marriage/ relationship is to love his wife. However, it must be pointed out that obedience is not about submitting to 'slavery/dictatorship'. Now it must be emphasised that a man who truly loves his wife would not treat her as though, she was a discountable property of a sort by pushing her around disdainfully in the name of obedience.

    Having said that, it is worth pointing out that the genesis of a lasting marriage/relationship is one of obedience and respect garnished by TRUST and LOVE. It is therefore incumbent of all true sons and daughters of Mother AFRICA to endeavour to raise children in harmonious homes where love, respect, trust and obedience thrives. Finally, my dream Africa is not one where 'girlfriend boyfriend/cohabiting'(Partners)relationship
    thrives to the detriment marriage because, children wherever they come from deserve 24/7 parenthood under both father& mum. Shalom

  • Comment number 10.

    In a country like South Africa where the chances of a women getting raped are 3 in 5 it goes to show the total disregard and lack of respect men have for women. To even assume that a women is an object who should "obey" her husband is something seated in the middle ages.
    I have even had men telling me that if they can't have what they want they will take it- barbaric!

  • Comment number 11.

    women shouldn't obey men? Marriage doesn't make him more equal.they r 2 different people with different points of view and consult each as such.

  • Comment number 12.

    The language is always a problem when framing these issues. Better to say that Couples should respect and obey each other. In Africa, it is common to find women as head of households. Times have changed.

  • Comment number 13.

    It is not a case of women should obey men but wife should obey there husband as a response to the love the men are to give to there wife. It should not be in Africa alone but all over the world as to bring peace to the society which should start from the home.

  • Comment number 14.

    That women are supposed to 'obey' their partners is as outdated as most of the traditions and/or religions that decree this.
    As in any partnership, a relationship works best with communication, respect, and teamwork, with love (hopefully) being dominant and the controlling factor. And, just as in any working relationship, each partner has different responsibilities and skills which they bring to the table in order to make it work.
    I will agree that in many relationships there is a 'dominant' and a 'submissive' partner, but that relationship should still be run as a 'democracy' so to speak.
    Believe me, if I tried to start ordering my partner around and expect her to obey me, I would soon be single; likewise if she tried the same with me it would also be the end of the relationship.

  • Comment number 15.

    It is not a question of should women obey their husband? it is a matter of must. why would my wife not obey me? am the head and my decision is final. this obidience would be in the interest of herself, and the entire family.
    But this dos'nt mean i would not respect my wife's opinion, decision and sugestions in the family. she is entitle to make decisions when neccessary. In African customary law stipulates that, women are subject to the rules of their husband and must abide by them. The Bible also states that man was not made because of woman,but woman was made because of man and for man. therefore, woman has no power of her own body and actions but the man. This is evidence in marriage where woman leaves the parents to man's house in obidience of God's law.
    However, men must reder due benevolence, respect, care and love totheir wife. conclusively, no matter how inteligent, rich,tall, huge,educated ect a woman may be. she must obey the husband.

  • Comment number 16.

    In modern times, the term "obey" is used very losely by controlling and manipulative men. A couple should know their roles within the relationship and household. If the woman is the bread-winner in the household her roles changes and the term "obey" is oppressive to the modern woman. A woman should respect her mate (husband). A woman should adhere to her spouse request and wishes. If the husband's request or demand is detrimental or demeaning to the woman or household, the woman should use her intelligence to do what is best for herself and household if the man fails in that aspect. Some men do not want to admit that a woman truly runs the home and keep it functioning. A woman can manage her personal affairs, the children, the spouse and running the home. So when you tell me to "obey" your request and demands, it depends on the request or demand to whether it will be obeyed. Some men go in a negative direction and request the woman to do lured acts and include others into the bedroom or allow him to bring a woman into the household and she is to act ignorant to his behavior and he consider it as "obeying" his request or demands. I would not "obey" such actions and behavior. It's time for men to accept the fact that women are becoming more educated, experienced and self-reliant in modern times than before when the women was totally dependent upon a man for everything.

  • Comment number 17.

    The word obey in this context imply submissiveness. So,I assume you are asking if African women should be submissive to their men. The answer is NO. A few comments here refer to the biblical teaching of women's place in society as a moral guidance. This is the problem today in the less developed world. Interpreting religious scripts so literally therefore viewing women as objects of men rather than individuals who have their own mind, need and interest just like men. The minute a man demands his woman should obey him, it is an indication that he wants to control every aspects of her life. You may argue some women accept and agree with "obeying" their men but the question is would they if they have a free and informed choice? No they won't. Mutual respect is a healthy approach and what is needed as it would reflect on the family hence the society.

  • Comment number 18.

    Yes Women should over their own men or husband, and so should men. The bible says they both should submit one to another, women should sumbit to their husband, men should Love them.
    In Psychology of Gender difference, it is assumed Men feel love their respect and women respect men that Love them. So it is definately a two way thing.

  • Comment number 19.

    If marriage, or any relationship, is built on obeisance, it will soon fracture into power struggles and bitter resentment. Both partners should mutually respect one another's strengths -- what one lacks, the other complements. My expectations for my partner's respect (attention, listening, collaboration, sharing, independence) stem from a healthy dose of self-worth. In the same step, I should provide my partner with an equal abundance of respect -- conscientiously, wholeheartedly.

    Unfortunately, self worth in many women (and men) in all nations, cultures, races, has become silently downtrodden by societal & religious confines. Self dignity has been beaten out of the individual, into a matted pulp of fear, subservience, deceit (towards self and others). The wife or husband no longer recognizes her own desires, her own values, and the human actions that depend on such abstractions.

    The husband who drinks and cavorts with other women, then expects his wife to "serve" him and bear his children, without respecting her individuality? Such attitude is just as inhumane as the diffident wife who yokes heavy responsibilities onto "her man," the sole breadwinner of the family, without trying to understand him as a person with individual fears and anxieties. (Terribly sweeping characters, sorry.) Only with a clear vision of his/her own self worth, can you possibly respect others fully -- free of hypocrisy.

    No, a penal code should not be constructed to make women 'obey' men, nor men obey women. Such a law will only further repress an individual's sense of self worth, which in turn will translate into oppression of others.

  • Comment number 20.

    As a modern and educated African woman, I see nothing wrong in finding a balance between "obeying" your husband AND listening, respecting and negotiating with each other. Clearly, times are changing and more of us are being exposed to the world, to education and we as African women are getting empowered, but that does mean we must now lose our values (whether they are religious or cultural)? Being a wife doesn't simply mean you can no longer speak and must listen to everything your husband tells you. To me, obeying means respecting, understanding and reasoning.. and not "submitting" to him. He is not my God and I do not need to submit to him. However, I think as modern and African women, we should fight hard to strike that balance and make sure we are not silenced and put down.

  • Comment number 21.

    I am an African woman and I'm quite upset about some these 'African' views. I grew up in a home where both parents worked. My father cleaned, cooked and looked after us when my mother was working. My parents discussed every little thing. They took decisions as a team. And this during Apartheid. Look at our lives today. The women work harder than ever. Many of these men who want to be obeyed are unfaithful, undeserving lots who infect the women with disease and rob their children of parents and of a future. OBEYED?! R-E-S-P-E-C-T: without this (from both sides), nothing will work.

  • Comment number 22.

    Africa will NEVER be the future if her women remain enslaved, controlled, exploited, degraded, dependent & uneducated. NEVER.

  • Comment number 23.

    As a child born into a large polygamous family, I can assure everyone that relationship should not be based on a woman (or women for that matter) obeying their husband, it should be based on a reciprocal form of respects and understanding between the wives and their husbands. It takes two to create a human being; and thus, I should take two nurture a longlasting and happy relationship. I understands the need for women to obey their husbands in a patriarchical societies such Sudan, Nigeria and Mali but I rather have my relationship based on respect and the willingness by both of us to keep a happy relationship.

  • Comment number 24.

    The African still holds dear its values, culture and traditions. However, with the advent of a modern society, it beholds on our society to view things with the continuous trends and happenings. I believe women need to be respected and appreciated for what they stand for. Respect is reciprocal and any woman who is respected by her husband will even respect him the more. The fact that changes taken place all around the world seems to move slower in Africa should not cause the society to lead us to disrespect our wives whom we promised to love and cherish.

  • Comment number 25.

    Although Africa and all the world is gradually accepting the changing roles of women in the society, Christian women are admonished to submit/obey their husbands just men are also instructed to love, protect her and provide for her. However, with economic pressures rising uncontrollably these days women have now taken on added responsibilities by contributing economically to ease these pressures on the man. I do not expect that the woman will cease to submit/obey her man because of of this rather the man and indeed all men should accord her an equal measure of respect she deserves. I dissagree with the notion that "Men have no fears", while women do and therefore should forever be subdued.

    Women are contributing significantly to society and should now be accepted as human beings and not just "lower sexes". While African values may teach the wife to be ever silent when men are speaking, Christianity accepts us all (male or female) as equals and honour to be given to whom it is due. Every husband deserves his wife's honor just as every wife deserves the respect of her man. It is a mutual obligation.

  • Comment number 26.

    wives must obey their husbands its simple as that, its God's will and it actually means there is more order in the household when there is one head who makes all the final decisions.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    hmmmm.... The definition leaves room for a lot of misinterpretation!

    i. The role of the African woman has not really changed. The African society is simply evolving and the dynamism of the African woman in various fields is beginning to be appreciated much more.

    ii. In the humble and sacred institution of marriage, each partner has a role to play. Should it be as defined by religion, culture or society. What is out dated, surely has found its solace place in the bins of history. As such, each partner should respect their own unique roles.

    iii. The reason why conflict arises is when either party apes the western ideological paradigm at the expense of the values of their native cultural society. This clash certainly creates undesirable moments.

    Put simply, man and woman must submit to each other. In any case, they will leave their parents house and become one.....

  • Comment number 29.

    Just as marriage is contracted under mutual understanding and agrement, women should obey their husband just as men should listen to their wives, when both sit down to look at issues they would come out with a better solution. forcing obiedence leads to withdrawal and ego boosting thereby causing abuse which would ultimately lead to divorce and in some case regret.
    Listening , understanding and negotiation is the bedrock of sucessful relation despite some individual differences that exist among people.
    Times are changing now but that does not mean that women should not obey their husband, each one of them has a role in the family and non of the roles are indispensible.

  • Comment number 30.

    Absolute obedience to another flawed human? I don't think so! Abuse of power is an ever present risk. The authority of the husband should be 'checked' by a higher authority that all respect.
    Mutual respect is the way to go. Deferring to reason not emotion should be the basis for decision making.
    However, since the family is the microcosm of the larger society, not having clear boundaries and clear authority figures, and allowing everyone can act independently without regard for law is the unadulterated recipe for anarchy shaken not stirred!

  • Comment number 31.

    What do you mean by "obey". In a marital life, both men and women should be equal partners and if one thinks he or she is greater than the other in the relationship, then, they should not be married.

  • Comment number 32.

    Tell me why you should obey your boss at work but not obey your husband, who does not only love you but protects you.Obedience is required in any relationship.A man is the head and deserves some submission from the wife.Any nation without a leader is chaotic and any home without a man

  • Comment number 33.

    Where people are gathered there must be a hierachy & there is saying that says "charity begginn's at home" by those premises I hereby say if ever we speak about order, someone must take a lead between males and females. Good people in RSA there is a Minister of Women & Children but not one for males, that is the evidence that women are always protected then males in our societies, though some abuse them but generally women are protected then males. I am not condonning abuse though of any form.

    As job opportunities are scarce we have a situation where man really struggle to survive as even women classify them according to material possessions while women are classfied by their beuty by man. Let man work as they depend more on materials then are females, who get protection even without materials possessions. Guys when this country was liberated man were/will and are still in a forefront in addressing major issues.

    Do you guys know what makes women always to follow man, it is their character, can a women engage people of all classes with issues? the answer is NO, they can't even greet lower people in the street, because if they do they will be proposed to by those guys & that where most of the things we learn as man. Then how are they going to learn new things with that character? Guys we love women but work is work, if we man always provide direction we must be honered for that. If job opportunities were in abundance then I would n't have a problem, but they are, let man work as they are like dogs without materials possessions.

    Lastly when one prays he/she says "Our Father who art in heaven" not Our Mother who art In heaven. We proceed til we say "Let your will be done on earth as it is on heaven" The earth should be the reflection of Heaven, in heaven they say "Our Father" so should we say on earth, so we could have order.

  • Comment number 34.

    It is all these kind of mentality and debate that brought marriage and divorce! For so many reasons this debate should not have been a thing to discuss for so many reasons.

    1) Is that Man is greater than woman in creation and natural otherwise.

    2) Is that God made it that woman should obey man which is the reason why He created them from the man's rib and called her a helper!

    3) Is that man is the father of the family and deserve to be respected not considering that he is also the bread winner, even if the woman contributes, it is still expected of her husband that she respects (obey) the man her (Husband) as a wife/woman she is.

    4) Apart from all the above reasons, we all respect who is stronger physically than we are if i am not mistaken, so if you see it as force, the man is stronger and we all know that who ever that subdue you can make you obey him, if you doubt me look around you, and tell me that you don't see man under other men as Servant, and ask yourself why?

    But without none of the above, a good woman respects and obey her husband, women is that not true?

  • Comment number 35.

    Reading this makes me wonder if the male partners in African marriages are proper men, or just little dictators determined to have their way no matter what. No wonder more and more women are deciding they don't need a man in their life at all. Treat your wife as an equal, contributing partner, and your marriage will improve by leaps and bounds. A wife is a partner, not an unthinking slave. Or is the latter what African men actually want? I pity African women, if that is the case.

  • Comment number 36.

    It is clearly believed in the African setting that a woman should fully commit to the man. And honestly, life has been just like that since the. past century. Because of western culture and modern education, the idea of female submiting to the male is shifting gradually. On the other hand, if I am well educated, that dosen't mean that I am not going to worship God as I use to.

  • Comment number 37.

    I don’t believe that African men do command there wife, rather they ask there wife for a common respect which is right of every individual, for example, I our area Igbo part of Nigeria, we always respect our wife but we don't want our wife’s to disrespect us, it doesn’t take anything out of a woman that respect his husband, for example when I am talking to my woman if my wife keep silent and silent to me first after my good instruction she then let me know the area I am wrong, than when I am talking she is talking meaning that we want the wrong side of our home. There will be no peace, a woman listening to his husband doesn’t mean that she is submitting to his husband command , it’s part of respect and his husband deserve that even those in European country, when tow are talking nobody is talking.
    D[Personal details removed by Moderator]onald

  • Comment number 38.

    Now, I hated it when people use religions for personal gains only. It is true that the Bible asks women to obey their husbands. The same Bible with the same breadth also asks men to love their wives. If you look at this critically, you would know that to love it even more demanding than to obey. If you love somebody you will obey them. I tell you, the desire of men that their women be totally submissive could be one of the reasons for the explosive population of Nigeria. It seems women have little or no control over their sexuality. The man decides how many children to have. It's all damned wrong! With more equality between men and women we will have more women pursuing higher education and as a result, they will be able to be independent of men. An economically independent woman can still be a very wonderful wife.

  • Comment number 39.

    We must realize there is a clear cut difference between obedience and freedom/right of speech. A woman should obey, but at the same disobey in love. The word obedience should not be a pretext either to subdue her, or to infringe on her right of speech and expression, especially in a family setting were everything is placed on the table for discussion and each persons input is needed.

  • Comment number 40.

    This is a reply to number six post above. If in your culture you have to pay many cows in dowry and that's your reason why women should always be obedient to their husbands; in my opinion, isn't it a loss to trade many cows just for one woman? Your cow can do anything you wanted it to do. I'll be very happy if sometimes my wife disagrees with me on some points and she's able to show me a better alternative to my ideas. That way I would know I'm not married to a dummy.

  • Comment number 41.

    one question one may ask is why should any human being obey at all to another human being ...whatever the shape of its body, its color, its age, its size or its "function"...

  • Comment number 42.

    Respect to all human beings, be it male or female, must be reciprocal if we truely have to make life meaningful to every one. It must not only be the wife respecting the husband, but the husband also have to show respect to the wife.

  • Comment number 43.

    Any grouping of individuals, from ants, birds, to animals including humans requires leadership to make quick decisions (commands) in times of emergencies, in disagreements (negotiation-deadlocks) and in many other situations. Who that leader is, depends on personality, knowledge of the natural environment & the rules therein and wisdom in using that knowledge appropriately. Among a couple, the leader may turn out to be the female (woman) or the male (commonly the man in human societies). Society cannot legislate human relationships that oftentimes are biologically driven, whether hormonally or as mentioned in the preceding. A family unit is not just the spouses, who in modern times may be gay or lesbian, but includes children. You cannot veto important decisions by arbitrary laws. In a penguin family unit, who takes the orders? Next time you look up and see a flock of birds in perfect formation led by one at the tip, think about it. It’s not about dictatorship by the strongest.

  • Comment number 44.

    Bilbically and traditionally, women must obey the men in marriage.99% of marriages are propsed by the man who also pays the dowry. World population shows that wemen are three quarter of the population. A man makes a careful choice to be in happiness and tranquility by chosing one out of every available ten women which is a big priviledge and consequently must obey the man. I donnot think that one can take his money and buy headache, the reason why a woman must be submissive and any cruelty of what by the man is always as a result of the woman failing to comply with her obligations.Total equality can never be except until when women will be dowrying men.No man can treat a loving woman with cruelty

  • Comment number 45.

    It is totally wrong in the 21st century that women are expected or obliged to obey their husbands no matter what.
    I am not surprised however that here in South Africa the majority of women agree that they should obey their husbands unconditionally. South Africa has just about the highest crimes of murder and rape in the world and the majority of our murders as well as rape, are committed by men against women. In my opinion many women is South Africa live in fear of men and hence the main reasons why they are so ready to obey their menfolk. One reason ofcourse why men in South Africa demand absolute obedience from their wives, is because they would have paid huge sums of money [or the equivalent in cattle] called lobola, to the family of his bride in order to obtain their agreement for him to marry their daughter. Once married the bride is expected to obey her husband even if he decides to court and marry other women. The culture of polygamy is practiced in South Africa. The present state president has three wives.[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] All part of the culture in which South African women are expected to obey their husbands without question. It will never disappear in a thousand years because it suits men and men only. As far as i am concerned it is a crime against women.

  • Comment number 46.

    Yes the women in Africa should,it is the men doing the "donkey" work in their respective families.the education for the family in Africa is a responsibility of men, the men provide the necessities in the house,they provide all directives,they make decisions in most cases,establish the homes for the family, actually men are the owners of the homes.so the women should obey their husbands for their own benefits.though it is two way trafic, women should do it.

  • Comment number 47.

    I believe it will be best for women to Obey their husbands in things that are right, obedience does not involve slavery, if it gets to that level i will advice that something be done,i will also add that the law there should be thinking of enacting in Mali should be laws to better the life of women and not laws to make them disobedient to their husband for the man is the head of the family and should be obeyed in all things that is GOOD. That has always been our tradition.

  • Comment number 48.

    I'd say we live in an evolutionary world where everything is organic in nature including our traditions and cultures. It's true that traditions and some religions 'encourages' women to submit to their men/husbands, it is however not the duty of the men to play God. I believe that the crust of the issue lies in the definition. I believe the respect that African men are demanding from wives and such, ought to be earned.

    The man being the physically strong in the household should be the protector of the family and this is where the question of submission comes in. If for instance I'm to be defended by a lawyer before a judge, I ought to be submissive to the legal muscles of the lawyer and not interrupt his arguments in the courtroom. In the same vein, the wife ought to be submissive to the husband in his effort at defending her.

    His however, is by not means a license for African men to enslave and subject their wives to inhuman treatment in the name of the submission.

    On the other hand, the all-knowing, ever-righteous European or American wife is also a very good recipe for repeated divorce and broken homes in Europe and North America. I believe respect, trust and love should be the key ingredients in any marriage anywhere and not slave-master relationship as in the case of Africa where men are the kings and the wives are the subjects or Europe where Women are the dictators and the men play the subjects.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 49.

    Oxford might have defines to 'obey' through submission but I am saying that to obey is not to submit yourself. Man that I am, I am not sure it will be the best thing for women to be slaves of their husbands. They should of course obey to us but us men should not push ...

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    BBC trying to break up the African family structure?Fail.This picture is a misrepresentation and you guys know it.I'm so happy that comments from our people show strong unity and support for traditional structures because without them things would get even tougher for our women.Men need to continue to work towards a violent free African home.No to single and lonely women,power to the African family structure.Don't let propaganda sway you,only African men will ever ever have your best interest at heart no matter how imperfect they are.As an African men I love adore and respect African women,they are my source of faith and joy.

  • Comment number 53.

    Should African women obey their man?
    Should Jews obey racially German people?
    Should blacks obey whites?

    mmm... let me think about that one....


    Why is it a question that's still being asked would probably be a better topic for debate. Why is it considered a valid question whether women should obey men because of the way they were born, yet if it were a question of one race being made to serve another, then that would be considered unacceptable?

    Furthermore, I can't imagine a debate entitled 'Should English women obey their man?' or 'Should Norwegian women be more submissive?' Why is it considered a valid point of view to think that women in non-western countries should be submissive because it's their culture, whereas in Northern Europe there's not much question about it? I am also depressed to see so many supposedly African men arguing that women should obey them. It is, in some ways, even worse that people are quoting the bible as justification for their attitudes. From my understanding, what stood Jesus apart from everybody else was that he never expected anybody, especially women, to be submissive to him, and instead dedicated his life to helping others and arguing that people should treat others as they'd want to be treated. That was what was supposed to seperate Christianity from what came before it, and is in the Old Testament so many people here are quoting. This argument about Jesus is used so often when it comes to racism, so why does everybody immediately rush to the Old Testament when womens' rights are concerned?

  • Comment number 54.

    What stops the african men from obeying their wives, or how are women different? African gender discrimination is the source of this practise and should be abolished. Men are not superior to women, so if you want your wife to obey you, start by obeying her first.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    No, women should not obey their husbands. A marriage is between two people, therefore the two people should discuss, compromise, negotiate and agree together. No one is above the other. This is an international question, and not just African. I commend Mali for being progressive and look forward to seeing other countries where women have secondary status adapting the same law. I think its outrageous that countries that are secular don't adopt this law.

  • Comment number 57.

    In some cases Yes, others No. Common sense should prevail.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    Of course if they wish to stay married.

  • Comment number 60.

    If women from all over the world do not obey their husbands, there are options like divorce or separation. What makes African women different?

  • Comment number 61.

    Smart women only obey their men in front of their kids. Anywhere else who knows?

  • Comment number 62.

    Yes and definitely yes! This is because its our way of life and not only in Africa but it's just natural everywhere in the world.
    Anyway, that also does not mean that men should take undue advantage of this and abuse rights of women. Men should equally respect women. its so simple.AFRICAN WOMEN SHOULD OBEY MEN BUT MEN SHOULD ALSO NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEIR OBEDIENCE

  • Comment number 63.

    I agree with the statement only because it will help fight HIV aids. Self respecting men will be obeyed by everyone and more so by those he loves anyway

  • Comment number 64.

    Traditionally in the African culture, women must obey their husband. Like the Koran says: ‘A man must protect his wife, so a woman must obey their husband’. Nowadays, the government in Mali wants to change the law, so women must no longer obey their husband. As a result of this proposal there is a lot of disputation among the population.

    Changing the law will be a step forward to improve women’s position in their marriage and in general. The family law has always favoured men; therefore women are particularly vulnerable in for example cases of divorce. Once the law is changed, women’s position and role will improve because they will be considered equal to men. One may argue this because obeying your husband is a part of their tradition, their habit. They do not see it as slavery and they consider them already as equal. A man loves his wife, so the women must obey him. There is no need for improving women’s position or situation.

    As result of the tradition and habit of the African culture, people are used to the fact that women must obey their husbands. Now, in the 21 century, we have come to the era where women can stand up for their rights and where men and women must be considered as equal. In the western society, a person is not equal to another when he or she has to obey someone else. This collides with the notion of equality between men and women and against the rights of women. We have also come in a modern society where the basic of a good relationship includes mutual respect. This cannot be achieved if the one has to obey the other. It can only accomplish when you listen to each other and respect their opinion. This is not the same as adapt the other person his opinion.

    Although the African population do not see obeying as slavery, the western population do. A relationship must be build on trust, respect en love. Without those essential elements a relationship will not work.

  • Comment number 65.

    I am 100percent agree that women should respect their husband or partner.We should first konw what form the word love,respect,obedience,faithfulnes and more.If your wife or partner does not obey you their will be no peace in that family.As for we the men we should always give what they deserve.ALLAH says in the holy quran that men are the guidance to women,so women should obey their husband.

  • Comment number 66.

    What do these man really take us for.Every time the issue of obedience is raised they run to the Holy Bible for shield.I still wonder if they did not read the part of the Bible that said the woman is a helpmate,and the part that said love your wife just as Christ love the church and give his life for the church.How many of them man can die for their wives,or is it a one-sided thing.The problem with african men is that they very authoritative and like power like their governments.

  • Comment number 67.

    It depends on how you define "obey". If obeying means to respect him as the head of the family, cherish and look up to my spouse, then definately a big YES! But if it means to do as I'm told me being able to question and discuss and being treated as doormat, then definately NO. And all those who go on about the religion, I am a Christian and it says that a woman must submit to her man AND a man must submit to his woman. With submission, it is meant that both partners should cherish, love, respect and look up to each other.

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    Yes in order to maintain peace in the house

  • Comment number 71.

    women obedience of men is one of the major beauty of African culture and the continent.However,such obedience is different from polygamy and rights of women pertaining to life and work but definitely not headship or governance.Remove it you destroy the African delicacy I believe other continent envy.Man woman relashionship in Africa is rooted in tradition.Typical African women often is not happy with registery/church wedding devoid of traditional rite of marriage but would likely be contented with traditional marriage rite deviod of registery/church wedding.

  • Comment number 72.

    When a woman is truly loved by the man, she simply submits to his authority. There is supposed to be no question as to whether the woman should obey or not. Violence against women has sent them rebeling against their husbands.

  • Comment number 73.

    I agree with the comment made that people who work, do obey their bosses to accomplish tasks or missions on a daily basis. Take a look at Proverbs chapter 31. It's clear what type of wife is honored by God and all men and it wasn't looked at to be abusive. Naturally before women took pride in pleasing their husbands and husbands therefore loved and treated those wives well. Being equal as a human is different than your position in a relationship. (employee v. employer) It is clear. All humans have equal rights and the bible also makes this distinction regarding husbands and wives. It is clear though that like the Christ is the head of the congregation so are husbands the head of their wives. So is this a bad thing? Of course not. I blame the past existence of Colonialism for the confusion on this matter. African / Black men were considered to be like second class citizens even if they had wives. It was obsurd for a wife to be acting as if she was obedient to her slave husband/Black husband. She was more obedient to her slave master than her husband! Now today you can see the attitudes towards obedience to a man, especially a BLACK MAN. Just the word "Obedience" sends most in a frenzy. They don't want to hear it. So they soften it's meaning. So really many have gone far from God's thinking on the matter and now trust Churches who mingle so closely in political policies and issues in order to maintain acceptance by the people and governments. It's a false teaching and those who fall under the pressure to pretend their are holy, to those, like Christ said he will say, "I never knew you." A reasonable husband will always be loving and fair to his wife needs and wants. But a reasonable wife will always respect her husbands authority and will work to make all of his efforts successful. Again, I rather listen to and look at Proverbs chapter 31 before I listen to a human court system. Proverbs gives the answer to what respected wives do and receive not the courts.


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