Examing the Cultural Practice of Ukuthwala and Its Impact on the Rights of the Child

Topics: Human rights, Marriage, Human sexual behavior Pages: 38 (13085 words) Published: May 10, 2012


STUDENT NO. : 8502686




Examining the cultural practice of ukuthwala and its impact on the rights of the girl child: An Eastern Cape Perspective


1. Introduction

2. Understanding Ukuthwala

3. International Legislative Framework

4. National Legislative Framework and Ukuthwala

5. Causes of Ukuthwala

6. Consequences of Ukuthwala

7. Impact of Ukuthwala on the Girl Child

8. Ukuthwala and Constitutional Rights

9. Responding to Ukuthwala

10. Recommended Strategic Approach to Ukuthwala

11. Stakeholder Involvement on Ukuthwala

12. The Need for Research

13. Conclusion

14. References

Diversity is the best adjective to describe the people, cultures and natural heritage of South Africa. There are eleven official languages and several foreign languages that are used in this country, which is home to South Africans and from across the world. The South African population consists of, amongst the different groups, the Nguni which is comprised of the Zulus, Xhosas, Ndebeles and Swazis. It is a group, like others, that maintains strong cultural identity. Part of this group resides in the Eastern Cape Province especially the Xhosa and Zulu speaking groups. This group, like every social grouping in the world has its own cultural practices and beliefs which guide its members on how they should live or behave. Culture is like a fabric which is woven and with many shades of colours. Some of these colours represent custom, practices, beliefs and so forth. The sum total is what gives the individual and the community to which he/she is part a sense of belonging and identity. The attributes of culture are dearly held and valued by the community. Studies have defined culture as a coherent self contained system of values and symbols that a specific cultural group reproduces over time, which provides individuals with the required signpost and meanings for behaviour and social relationships in their everyday life. The above statement shows that culture is a social heritage which includes all knowledge, beliefs, customs and skills that are available to members of a social group. It is also a source of individual and group identity within a given society. Despite the fact that culture is beneficial to its members, some practices are harmful and directly affront the dignity of members of the society when measured against modern internationally acceptable standards of behaviour and civility. These standards have been articulated in national constitutions and international conventions. A number of cultural practices are harmful to the physical integrity of the individual and especially women and girl children. Some cause excruciating physical pain while others subject them to humiliating and degrading treatment. Harmful traditional practices emanate from the deeply entrenched discriminatory views and beliefs about the role and position of women in society. The role differentiation and expectations in society relegate women to an inferior position from birth throughout their lives. Harmful traditional and cultural practices maintain the subordination of women in society and legitimize and perpetuate gender based violence. This paper attempts to closely examine the practice of ukuthwala in the Eastern Cape which is proving to be a harmful traditional practice. In an effort to achieve that, this paper will put in proper perspective the practice of ukuthwala; it will analyse the legislative framework that provides for the prevention and protection accorded to women and girl children; the causes and consequences of ukuthwala; the impact that this has on women and girl...
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