Abducted marriages, inheriting a wife to be outlawed

2012-06-29 07:18

Cultural practices such as “ukuthwala” (abducted marriages) and “ukungenwa” (inheriting a wife) will soon be outlawed.

Although the cultural practices are marginal and practised in some of the most conservative rural communities, the ANC policy conference has proposed a ban on such cultural practices as they are viewed as going against the human rights ethos of the Constitution.

In some parts of the Eastern Cape very young girls still run the risk of being abducted and forced into marriages with much older men.

In some cases, they have been forced to cut their education short so that that they could raise families.

Ukungenwa involves a situation where a dead husband’s brother takes over the widow of his sibling in order to keep the woman in the late husband’s family.

ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Bathabile Dlamini said the Eastern Cape pushed for the adoption of the proposal.

“There was agreement that this is a violation of women’s rights … and that South Africa has dealt with issues that have to do with the abuse of women and the oppression of women. All provinces said they don’t support ukuthwala so we have won as women,” she said.

ANC NEC member Paul Mashatile said there was a proposal that there should be an audit of the country’s cultural practices to assess whether or not they were in line with the Constitution.

It is not clear when this would happen as all the proposals of the policy conference still need to be ratified by the party’s elective national conference in Mangaung.

The conference also gave a thumbs up to the call for a job seekers’ grant, which will help support young people who are looking for employment by paying for the skills they need.

Mashatile said there had been no support for the wage subsidy – which had been endorsed by KwaZulu-Natal, but rejected by ANC ally Cosatu, which said it would lead to the exploitation of young people by employers.

It also represented yet another rejection of President Jacob Zuma’s policies.

Said Mashatile on the job seekers’ grant: “Let me emphasise the fact that this is not giving job seekers money.

But to put resources where young people get trained and get prepared for employment.

It’s something that is still being worked on.

“There was a feeling that if you give employers money to employ young people, that can be abused. Therefore it’s not a good mechanism to push youth employment.

"If there are resources in government, because youth subsidy may have weaknesses, we should not necessarily not make those resources available to other programmes that can support young people to become active in the economy,” he said.

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