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Title: Child-widows silenced and unheard : a neglected human rights agenda in Tanzania
Author: Magoke-Mhoja, Monica Elias
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2006
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It is commonly assumed that widows are adult women; hence, there has been a lack of research on violations of child-widows' inheritance rights. This study explores the circumstances under which the girl-child encounters early marriage and is then widowed under a plural legal system; and searches for solutions. It examines legal pluralism in Tanzania and its relevancy in this study and applies a qualitative grounded approach in analysing the interplay between the law and the realities of child-widows' lives. Child-widowhood is one of the worst repercussions of child marriage in a variety of situations and contexts due to their age, gender and immaturity. The study reveals that most customary laws of inheritance and customs discriminate against childwidows. They face profound violations of their human rights in coping with widowhood problems. Access to courts is difficult, so their problems are mainly solved at clan level. Ironically, customary norms, such as the care of widows have been manipulated; widows are often left with no inheritance. The harm inflicted by customary law includes impoverishment, violence, the lack of education and the risk of HIV infection. The study identifies features for and against the favourable realisation of gender equality for child-widows through local norms and practices. Although there are significant obstacles, local norms are still central in facilitating or constraining people's abilities to claim or exercise whatever rights are available to them. Thus, the study suggests possibilities of mediating customary norms through the international human rights law, using the principles of gender equality and non-discrimination. The prerequisites for this include political will and the legislative framework.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available