African customary law and gender justice in a prograssive democracy

by Ozoemena, R.N.

Abstract (Summary)
The constant clash of African culture and traditions with human rights continue to militate against the adequate protection of women’s rights. Thus, African women constantly face challenges resulting from restrictions under customary laws of succession and inheritance, witchcraft violence, degrading treatment to widows, domestic violence; women killed by their partners, rape of women and children under all kinds of circumstances.

This thesis was prompted by the issues raised in the Bhe case of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. In this landmark judgment, Ngcobo J dealt with the development of customary law, and how it must be approached by the courts in a manner that would have due regard to the rights of women on one hand and, on the other, would also accord customary law of its proper place, purpose and values within the African context. Against this background, the thesis focused on South Africa, Nigeria and Lesotho as excellent models of the broader challenges for women as well as governments; despite certain legislative measures put in place by the latter, the battle continues unabated for the balance of traditions and culture with women’s rights issues. Although South Africa is more progressive in terms of Constitution and practice than Nigeria and Lesotho, a lot still needs to be done particularly in the area of harmonization of laws. Regrettably, in Nigeria and Lesotho respect for the Constitution is superficial and lacks substantive policies that would promote women’s rights. To this extent, the balance of democratic values and promotion of women’s rights issues within the continent lie in women being partners in development rather than unduly suffering under intense burden of culture, tradition and societal stereotypes.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:faculty of law


Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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