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It’s no longer relevant to use your husband’s name after marriage — Judge

Traditional Marriage

High Court Justice Alexander Osei Tutu believes that it is no longer relevant or necessary for married women to take their husband’s surname. He made this statement while speaking on Accra-based JoyNews’ The Law on Sunday, July 7. The judge argued that this tradition originated from English customs intended to subjugate women.

Justice Osei Tutu traced the practice back to ancient English common law from the 11th century, which deemed married women as having no independent legal identity from their husbands. He explained that if a woman married, her husband’s identity would cover her. The judge pointed out that Christian theology was later used to justify this tradition by citing passages that call for wives to submit to their husbands.

However, Justice Osei Tutu stressed that nowhere in the Bible did it mention that women take on their husband’s name upon marriage. “Eve was never called Adam Eve. Jesus’ mother was not called Mary Joseph,” he noted. The tradition served to demean women and diminish their own identity, according to the High Court judge.

As women have gained more independence and rights over the centuries, Justice Osei Tutu believes it is time to reconsider carrying on the antiquated English custom. “We need to reconsider our adoption of the ‘Mrs’ and the use of the husband’s name,” he stated. With legislation now empowering women’s autonomy, the judge says there is no longer any valid justification for married women to abandon their birth names.

 

By: Isaac Donkor Distinguished

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