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Batswana Women and Law. Les femmes batswana et le droit. The status and position of Batswana women was largely influenced and shaped by their relative position in Tswana traditional society. Colonial education prepared men and women for different roles in the political economy, in conformity with Victorian ideals, which under-girded colonial state ideology. This necessitated the re-ordering of the Tswana productive and social relations, to align them more closely to the needs of the colonial state.
Colonial education was however, mediated and was compelled to be responsive to the needs of Batswana, and their interpretation of it. Bechuanaland Protectorate was peripherally integrated into the South Africa economy, and essentially served as a labour reserve within the wider South African political economy. As an imperial buffer, Bechuanaland Protectorate remained severely underdeveloped, as Batswana became increasingly drawn to the South African labour market throughout the colonial period.
It was characterised by unequal power relations between men and women. Similarly, pre-colonial education served to perpetuate strict patriarchal control of women and domination over them by men. It consisted of informal and formal ways of socialization into the norms, traditions and practices of their communities Schapera; Comaroff Education and migration were critical mediating processes to these changes.
The reduction of dikgosi 2 powers in particular, was an important aspect of the transformation of Tswana socio-political structures.
Hitherto, deriving largely from their political role under indirect rule policy, dikgosi were allowed to carry on exercising jurisdiction over all civil cases involving Africans 3while Roman-Dutch Law governed cases involving Europeans. It was also applied to cases that had no precedence in customary law Molokomme This went hand in hand with changes to pre-colonial socio-political institutions in general and to bogosi 5 in particular. Bogosi was as it continues to be for all intents and purposes the repository of culture, and hence of patriarchal customary law 6. Transformations also came about as a result of the entrenchment of the cash economy generally.
In particular, the colonial processes of trade, education and labour migration mediated, and added a further impetus to this development.
To some extent colonial interference forced transformations to Tswana customary law, which benefited women, albeit it also left them vulnerable to the vicissitudes of a western ostensibly individualistic lifestyle. In particular it sets out from the premise that gender determines and underscores social relations of production in any given setting. This makes gender an important crosscutting issue in the study of current and historical social phenomena. Lerner conceptualised patriarchy as:.
The mode of analysis suggested here rejects the notion of separate spheres, and acknowledges the interactive relations between men and women. This study recognises that in their participation in pre-colonial and colonial processes, women were differentially positioned within the socio-political and economic structures of their communities. By the same token, their role in, and position within the socio-legal context was also mediated by their gender, as well as class. These were the main variables of distinction and engagement in Tswana society. Moreover, patriarchy 8 was the common denominator for all these processes.
It transcended all else and was the basis for regulating, shaping and organizing productive and social relations between men and women. It was interlinked symbolically and practically to wider political structures of the immediate kgotla 9and through it, to the more Civitavecchia married women sex village kgotla.
It was a place of political debate and decision making, which hinged upon a male- centred cosmology, in which the socio-legal position of women was strictly circumscribed. The household unit began undergoing changes, as a result of the effects of colonization, particularly due to migratory labour. Migrant labour transformed the Tswana household unit from a fundamentally patrilineal and patrifocal one to an 10 increasingly matrilineal and matrifocal one, with attendant transformations to the productive and power relations between men and women.
Similarly, he was the one who received the symbolic bride wealth or cattle, and had the additional responsibility of arbitrating in marriage squabbles involving his Civitavecchia married women sex, with the main aim of keeping the union intact. In regard to a married couple, the husband, ideally following discussion with his wife, made important and elaborate family decisions.
Such decisions related to personal, productive and reproductive aspects of their daily lives. Men wielded disciplinary authority over their wives and children, and a man could beat his wife in the privacy of their own household Kinsman Moreover, men were responsible for looking after, and provided for the daily needs of their wives and families. However, the relationship of men to women was an essentially patronizing one.
Their fathers, husbands and brothers generally dominated women. Although Batswana women as a class were neither unvalued nor unappreciated, unlike men they lacked access to crucial resources, which were required for acquisition of individual socio-economic status due to the patriarchal nature of their society These gender power relations were maintained through traditional education of youth, and specifically through bojale and bogwera, traditional initiation institutions.
Young men were gradually integrated into duties related to the political affairs of their society, and were taught things such as, respect for the kgosi and the institution of bogosi Men in the kgotla held discussions and made decisions pertaining to the political life of the morafe. Each ward also constituted a kgotla where the men folk held meetings and discussions on their own ward matters.
Women were denied access to the crucial loci of power, and to the seat of socio-political authority and control-the kgotla. The kgotla was the supreme law making and rule enforcing place of public debate. It was essentially a male preserve, in which women were not allowed even as litigants and they could not sue independently in court at the kgotla.
Hence, women were subjected to laws and regulations to which they could not contribute to, influence or challenge. An oral informant explained that:. But girls were also taught things that were related to the upkeep of the household, and the elders would emphasize to the girl that, we are teaching you these things because in the future you will be a woman and you will be sent to another household, you must know there you are going to be owned ruiwa by your husband and your in-laws.
You must show them the same respect tlotlo in the same way that you have been showing respect to your parents [ The following text puts this assertion in a clearer perspective:. Upon her betrothal, if she found that the household of her in-laws was not strong, she was the one who lifted it up and strengthened it in her role as the woman mosadi of that ward kgotla. She was the one who also took it upon herself to turn the ward into a haven botshabelo for all. She was the one to whom everyone turned and trusted [ That way, she became the woman of that ward mosadi wa kgotla eoand she became the one in charge molaodi [ If and when she did all these things, her in-laws respected and gave in to her [ In a related context, Kinsman alluded to a similar notion when she posited that:.
As only an ideology of the subordinated can do, it meshed acceptance of subservience with rejection of the dominant world of men. Gender criss- crossed, and was itself criss-crossed by other of social distinction.
It Civitavecchia married women sex determined the extent to which the individual would gain or lack status. Men were the ones who tended and herded, as well as inherited cattle.
Conversely, in most Tswana societies, women had almost nothing to do with ownership, maintenance and upkeep of cattle. In fact, Tswana taboos served as an ideological means of keeping women away from livestock. During menstruation for instance, women were debarred from entering cattle kraals or walking through a flock of sheep or goats, lest they cause them to abort or die. Due to changes in customs and practices, in some families girls increasingly herded livestock, although cattle herding has remained largely a male preserve The men were also responsible for herding and tending the cattle and customarily, they also carried out cattle transactions.
If he had been a polygamist, his eldest son by his first wife succeeded him as the head of the household and inherited its property, including cattle.
The eldest son was appointed to look after both his inherited herd and that of his younger siblings. These became valuable commodities of trade with white traders starting in eh early 19 th century Chirenje Generally, patterns of land ownership and property rights granted individual men quite different positions in community life from women.
In contrast, women were cast into largely communal forms of ownership, which locked them into a situation of dependence and lifelong subordination Kinsman This was particularly so because customary law operated in such a manner that women Civitavecchia married women sex not protest against it-in the home and within the smaller kgotla or ward.
The ward was more intimately linked to the household, and through it, decisions reached at the level of the more central kgotla filtered down to the household level Schapera Patriarchy operated through societal and community sanction, as well, through the practice of ostracising those who did not conform to the established norms and codes of behaviour. By the same token, women did not have access to socio-legal structures, and generally relied on their fathers, husbands, uncles and adult sons for representation in matters of litigation Schapera; Kinsman 51; Molokomme ; Radijeng Thus, the Tswana patriarchal structures comprehensively and effectively excluded women from a crucial means of gaining socio-economic status.
InDavid Livingstone of the London Missionary Society commenced work among Bakwena who were then living a Chonwane, and moved with them to Kolobeng in The basic mission work comprised preaching the bible and conversion of Batswana into Christianity.
However, in addition to proselytising, missionaries began to provide the rudiments of literacy. Amongst Batswana, missionaries were primarily responsible for provision of education to Batswana for most of the colonial period, in exception of educational efforts of Batswana themselves Mafela The colonial government only started providing financial assistance in the form of minimal grants-in-aid in This however comprised a small proportion of the total educational expenditure incurred by missionary bodies.
Hence, trade and commerce were crucial accompaniments to missionary labour. Inadvertently, western laws and practices regulated the context within which trade operated. This was so particularly because men were the ones who were generally engaged in commercial activity. This created wider divisions between men and women, as men gained greater access to resources, and the attendant socio-economic upper hand over their womenfolk.Civitavecchia married women sex
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