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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:A critical analysis of customary marriages, 'bohali' and the South African Constitution
Author:Songca, R.ISNI
Periodical:Lesotho Law Journal: A Journal of Law and Development
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:customary law
family law
Abstract:The coexistence in South Africa of customary marriages, which differ from civil marriages in that they are potentially polygamous, and Western monogamous marriages, has not only resulted in confusion and debate in the area of family law, but it is contended by some that customary marriages perpetuate the inequality between women and men. The confusion is further exacerbated by the practice of paying 'bohali' (bridewealth) under both systems of marriage. Although 'bohali' is justified on the grounds that it 'cements' families and ensures the proper treatment of the bride in her new home, some writers argue that these justifications are no longer valid. They see 'bohali' as a weapon to control women. The present author reviews the arguments for and against polygamy, and those for and against 'bohali', and argues that it is good that both traditional practices have been retained. However, in order to comply with South Africa's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the laws governing polygamous marriages and the practice of paying 'bohali' should be modified to better protect the rights of women. Notes, ref.