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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The 'proposition': maintenance in the twilight in urban Zimbabwe
Author:Ladley, AndrewISNI
Periodical:Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Abstract:The formal rules under customary and general law relating to marriage (and non-marital) relationships and the responsibilities of bringing up children under Zimbabwean law can be fairly simply stated. However, whatever the formal position, a great many Zimbabweans, especially in urban areas, live in a 'twilight zone', where rural custom has gone and State law is irrelevant. Based on fieldwork amongst the Shona peoples in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, in 1982, 1987 and 1990, the author examines litigation in the courts on the issues of seduction and maintenance claims under the colonial legal system and after independence, in the context of changes in Shona customs governing marriage and sexual relations produced by urbanization. Shona bridewealth exchange, by which sexuality was 'socialized', was based upon a rural economy, where face-to-face relations, kinship, tribal hierarchy and ancestral respect formed a coherent normative system. From the turn of the century, however, the urban experience was, for most Shona, dislocated from these roots and today Zimbabwe's urban women and men are clearly not mostly living according to the customary expectations. This may be particularly harsh for indigent urban women seeking damages and/or maintenance for their children. Bibliogr., notes, ref.