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Title: Widowhood and property among the Baganda of Uganda : uncovering the passive victim
Author: Mwaka, Beatrice Odonga
ISNI:       0000 0001 3438 4688
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1998
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This is a socio-legal study of widowhood among the Baganda of Uganda. The thesis explores widowhood as it affects women within their local cultural context to determine the extent to which they pursue their rights in property and other family relationships. The thesis takes the position that to see them as ‘passive victims’ is to deny them a ‘voice.’ It homogenises them denying them their individuality. To this end the thesis explores the activities individual women undertake to pursue their interests. The study examines their perceptions of their situations as narrated through their own voices and what they have done or are doing about the situation. Widowhood flows from death in a marriage relationship. Consequently, the thesis begins with a woman entering into marriage, exploring how she is conceptualised through the giving of marriage gifts/bridewealth and the consequences that flow from that in a marriage relationship and its implications for widowhood. The study argues that there is need to understand the local cultural context in which women live and that within this context there are several regulatory regimes/semi autonomous social fields that regulate the society. This includes customs and cultural practices, the imported western law and in recent years the Resistance Councils which were created by the State to encourage democratic participation and popular justice beginning at grassroots. None of these regimes are autonomous from the other although each seeks to exert its own power. This has far reaching consequences for the extent to which a woman can assert herself. Within this the ‘family council’ or clan to which every person in that society belongs emerges as the strongest regulatory regime. The study reveals that the choice of regimes allows a woman to pick and choose where to assert her rights depending on her interests, location and resource position. Within these set of circumstances her self perception as an individual with rights is the strongest tool in driving her to pursue her interests. The study also reveals that in some cases the written imported law supports cultural practices but because it is perceived as foreign, there has not been openess nor understanding of the substance of the law thus resulting in conflicts with customary practices. This is most evident in rural societies where cultural practices find their strongest means of expression. However there is room for harmony where the law does not seek to impose itself on other regulatory regimes but recognizes the need for sharing of powers and working in cooperation with these other regimes. In this respect the creation of the RC system which encourages local informal dispute resolution and which has the capacity to respond to social factors and changing attitudes within the community and the wider legal system can be an effective tool for legal innovation and draw the women as a whole into decision making.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: World Bank
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman ; KR Africa