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An Appraisal of the Night Masquerade Festival and Discrimination against Women in Nigeria from an International Human Rights Law Perspective

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Abstract The Night Masquerade is one of several cultural practices that are well rooted within the Yoruba people in the south-western part of Nigeria. The masquerade is believed to be an adult male member of the society. This person traditionally walks about the town nakedly in the company of numerous other adult male members of the society, performing rituals and appeasing the gods. Generally, women are forbidden from viewing this masquerade and any woman who violates this rule shall be put to death to appease the gods. Over the years, this cultural practice has generated heated arguments and concern, especially from human rights activists and feminists. The paper will argue that any cultural practice that promotes discrimination on the basis of sex and that in fact leads to unnecessary restriction of movement and wanton loss of lives is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law at Allard Hall, The University of British Columbia 1822 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z1


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