Child-Widows Silenced and Unheard by Monica Elias Magoke-Mhoja
Human Rights Sufferers in Tanzania

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Synopsis

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 book 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 and applies a qualitative grounded approach in analysing the interplay between the law and the realities of child wives and child-widow's lives. There are various configured factors contributing to child marriage namely: traditional and religious justification; the value of having children; the lack of value in education for girls as well as economic and social reasons. 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 book reveals that most customary laws of inheritance and customs discriminate against child-widows. 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 with no inheritance. The consequences include impoverishment, violence, the lack of education, the risk of HIV infection and death of child widows. The book identified features for and against the favourable realisation of gender equality for child-widows through the 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 book 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 legislative framework.
 

About Monica Elias Magoke-Mhoja

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Dr. Monica Magoke-Mhoja is an Advocate of High Court of Tanzania and currently engaged in Consultancy work in international human rights law, legal pluralism, gender and development.  She is also a part-time researcher and Coordinator of Africa Programs with the Dignity Alert & Research Forum (DARF).  She is married to James Mhoja and they have four children. She holds a PhD in Human Rights Law from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland – United Kingdom; LL.M from George Town Law Center – Washington D.C (USA) and LL.M & LL.B from the University of Dar es Salaam.  She is an initiator member and first Chairperson of Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF).  She is also a founder member and the first Executive Director of Women’s Legal Aid Centre (WLAC) one of the leading women’s rights organisations in Tanzania.  As the Director of WLAC, she actively led WLAC to participate in a number of Coalitions and contributed in advocacy of law reform such as the Sexual Offence (Special Provisions) Act, 1998, the Land Act, 1999 and initiated the advocacy for the inheritance reform as the then Chairperson of Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) - Tanzania. She also facilitated the establishment of a number of Paralegal Centres in the regions.  She was also the first coordinator of Social Watch Programme in Tanzania and CEDAW Task Force.  In addition, she is a member of Tanganyika Law Society, Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA) and AWID-CANADA.  She had been a board member to a number of institutions nationally and internationally; she is currently a board member of World-Vision Tanzania, ACODE–Uganda and FORWARD - London -UK.  In recognition of her staunch human rights activism, the American Bar Association (Litigation Section) awarded her the 2003 International Human Rights Award.  Monica has published widely on women’s rights issues.
 
Published May 23, 2008 by AuthorHouse. 288 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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