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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Language, Gender and the Law: Divorce in the Context of Muslim Family Law in Zanzibar
Author:Hanak, Irmi
Periodical:African Languages and Cultures
Geographic term:Zanzibar
Subjects:Islamic law
marriage law
language usage
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Women's Issues
Law, Legal Issues, and Human Rights
Cultural Roles
Marital Relations and Nuptiality
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1771791
Abstract:In Muslim family law in Zanzibar (United Republic of Tanzania), gender-specific differences exist for women and men who want to terminate their marriage. While women face lengthy procedures, requirements for men are informal and simple, and their communicative strategies differ accordingly. This study analyses three court cases initiated by Muslim women in Zanzibar, focusing on the plaintiffs' strategic use of language in the court proceedings. After the routine introductory phase of the proceedings, the plaintiff is invited to state her case. This presentation of the case can be decisive, because at no other point in the proceedings does the judge allow any participant such a long turn without interference. Disputing, evasion and the introduction of new topics are strategies used in the next stage of the proceedings, and during the final stage plaintiffs use interruptions to safeguard their interests. The three cases show that although women in Zanzibar are socialized into a marginal position in society and usually have little practice in dealing with institutionalized proceedings, they make extensive use of speech strategies that do not conform to notions of powerless and submissive speech. Bibliogr., notes, ref.