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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Land and marriage: women's strategies in the Extreme North of Cameroon
Author:Berg, Adri van den
Periodical:Focaal: tijdschrift voor antropologie
Geographic term:Cameroon
customary law
land law
Abstract:This paper discusses the various strategies which Guiziga women in Mindif, in the Extreme North, a province in Cameroon, have developed in order to cope with insecurity. Their most effective ways of achieving social security are economic and matrimonial. Common economic activities are the cultivation of food crops and the production of millet beer. Both activities require access to land or capital. Guiziga women's access to land seems to be guaranteed by their alliances with men, in particular their husbands. However, as soon as these alliances with men break up, women's rights to land - even to land cleared by women themselves - come under attack. This notwithstanding, the divorce rate in the Extreme North is high. Most divorces are initiated by women. This would seem paradoxical, since by abandoning their marriage, women have to give up the few resources by which they can gain some economic autonomy. So what do they gain by marrying, and what do they gain by divorcing? Are these actions contradictory, or are both part of a general search for social security on the part of women, and as such considered compatible? What are the effects of women's various strategies on their social security? These questions are addressed in the paper on the basis largely of in-depth interviews with Guiziga women in Mindif conducted by the author in 1991-1992. Bibliogr., notes, ref.