A group of female lawyers has written to Justice John Tosho of the Federal High Court demanding the privacy of female lawyers who have been asked concerning their marital status during court proceedings.
The letter titled ‘Re: Guaranteeing the Dignity of Female Counsel Appearing before the Federal High Court’ was signed by Professor Chidi Odinkalu, Gloria Ballason and Abiodun Baiyewu, prominent lawyers of the bar.
The letter reads partly, ‘It has come to our attention and we have independently verified that several honorable judges of the Federal High Court in different places insist on asking female counsel appearing before them to indicate whether they are married or single, by requiring the
to make a mandatory choice between the honorific titles ‘Mrs’ or ‘Miss,’ when they announce themselves in court.
‘In some cases, female advocates who balk at being treated this way run into trouble with conducting their cases, suffer unacceptable bullying from the court or jeering and sniggering from the bar and the court gallery and generally get subjected to indignities entirely unrelated to
their abilities or the merits of their advocacy or their cases. We note that men who appear in court are not at risk of suffering a similar faith.’
The group insisted that the constant routine of probing female lawyers their marital status had no basis in the rules of the court, and could be seen as a violation of their constitutional right to dignity.