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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'The Politics of the Womb': Kenyan Debates over the Affiliation Act
Author:Thomas, Lynn M.
Periodical:Africa Today
Geographic term:Kenya
Subjects:illegitimate children
Women's Issues
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Law, Legal Issues, and Human Rights
Marital Relations and Nuptiality
Cultural Roles
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/africa_today/v047/47.3thomas.pdf
Abstract:This article examines reproductive struggles and debates in late colonial and early postcolonial Kenya by reconstructing the history of the short-lived Affiliation Act, a law that granted all single women the right to sue the fathers of their children for paternity support. In 1959, the colonial government enacted this law in a bid to address the social problem of 'illegitimacy' through familial channels, and to demonstrate the government's commitment to a nonracial future. The Affiliation Act proved extremely controversial. Although welfare and women's organizations hailed the Act as a crucial step toward providing for children born outside of marriage and protecting women from irresponsible men, many male politicians and members of the public complained that it was a foreign imposition that made men the 'slaves' of women, and encouraged female promiscuity. In June 1969, the all-male National Assembly repealed the Act. The article demonstrates how material struggles stemming from pregnancy and surrounding child rearing - 'the politics of the womb' - have been important to the elaboration of gender and political relations in postcolonial Kenya. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum.