Long Essays

This is a collection of Reasearch Papers done by Upgraders.

Papers List

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A critical analysis of the efficacy of the Intestate Succession Act chapter 59 of the Laws of Zambia in protecting the rights of widows A critical analysis of the efficacy of the Intestate Succession Act chapter 59 of the Laws of Zambia in protecting the rights of widows

This article examines the Intestate Succession Act chapter 59 of the Laws of Zambia to assess whether it complies with international treaties and conventions and adequately protects the rights of widows. The author uses a theory of patriarchy to explain women’s position in society through a plural perspective and cites relevant case law to investigate the way the law functions within this context. While the law provides equally for men and women, gendered perceptions and cultural norms still ultimately prevent women from claiming their rights. Consequently, while a woman is granted the right to the family home on the death of her husband, this right is withdrawn should she decide to remarry. The author points out further anomalies in the application of the Act and reveals that gendered, patriarchal and cultural forces still override the law’s attempt to comply with international human rights legislation. Even the Zambian constitution is ambiguous with regard to cultural practices and needs to be reviewed. She also calls for a review of the Intestate Succession Act chapter 59, taking into account the cultural reality of women’s position in society and dealing with particular situations like polygamous marriages and customary land. She acknowledges that a shift in societal attitudes is also needed and recommends a rigorous information campaign.

By Daphne Chabu

 

 

An exploration of lobola and its impact within the arena of sexual relations and procreative imperat An exploration of lobola and its impact within the arena of sexual relations and procreative imperat

This essay revisits the issue of lobola in the context of the AIDS pandemic in Zimbabwe. Lobola or roora is the bride price traditionally paid by a husband to the family of his wife­to­be. The author investigates the effect of this tradition on the power relations within traditional marriages.She suggests that when women are ‘bought’, they enter into an unequal partnership and cannot easily negotiate safe sex with their husbands, thus increasing their vulnerability to HIV infection. Other factors resulting in unequal power relations in marriages are discussed and both national and international legal frameworks for married women’s sexual rights are examined. The essay explores the meaning, significance and implication of lobola, finally focusing on whether the abolition of lobola would increase women’s ability to negotiate safer sex in marriage.

By Irene Sithole

Breaking the silence on menstruation in Zimbabwe: Where does the female prisoner stand? Breaking the silence on menstruation in Zimbabwe: Where does the female prisoner stand?

Menstruation is a normal female function. It occurs every 21 to 28 days for three to five days. Although women are homogeneous in the sense that they all experience menstruation between the ages of about eleven and 50 years, it affects individual women differently. There are variations in both the duration and density of the flow, among others. And so while one woman menstruates for two days, it can last for as long as five days in another woman. Even where two women menstruate for the same number of days, one woman’s flow may be heavier.

By Jill Makarati

Handling of survivors of rape as a crime against humanity, the gender perspective in the Rwandan genocide tribunal  Some lessons from the Muhimana case Handling of survivors of rape as a crime against humanity, the gender perspective in the Rwandan genocide tribunal Some lessons from the Muhimana case

This essay finds its departure in the preparatory work in the Muhimana case, focusing on the interaction with respective witnesses who subsequently testified in the case. The accused, Muhimana committed exclusive and disproportionate crimes against women and girls in Kibuye during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The author also derives some of her observations from her experience as a regional magistrate in Zimbabwe and her work at a non­governmental organization, the Musasa Project. She identifies some inherent problems associated with being a victim of rape, for example, being ostracized and stigmatized and social and economic insecurity. She also identifies the inadequacies and anomalies within the legal system in relation to these crimes and the sometimes insensitive treatment of the victims. The essay concludes by exploring gender sensitive ways to close the gap between rhetoric and practice in interviewing witnesses and investigating rape as a crime against humanity and a crime of war. The author suggests ways to reinforce any identified strengths in the system and to avoid re­-traumatizing victims as they interact with the international justice system.

By Renifa Madenga

International ‘drive’ for reforms on water International ‘drive’ for reforms on water

Water reforms have been on the international agenda for decades and this essay assesses the impact of these reforms at a national and local level by focusing on women in peri­urban areas in Zambia. While the Zambian constitution specifically includes political and civil rights, it only implies the economic, social and cultural rights that would obligate the government to deliver social services, including water. The right to water is a gendered issue as women have traditionally been responsible for supplying water for the household but the author points out that the local legislation dealing with water rights and access does not take this into account. Commercialization of water is said to maximize profits for commercial utilities and increase efficiency in water use, thus reducing negative environmental impacts and improving water conservation. However, in a situation where over 60 per cent of urban dwellers are poor, high pricing of water makes it inaccessible to many households. The author discusses the George Compound Water Project in Lusaka which has attempted to address these issues and goes on to suggest a human rights approach to water reforms in Zambia that incorporates the spirit of the relevant international human rights instruments.

By Cosmas Lukupulo

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