Gender based structu[r]al violence in relation to the traditional practice of wife inheritance : the case of Malawi : an empirical study of the violence experienced by widows involved in wife inheritance practice
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The purpose of the study is to investigate how gender based violence is enhanced through the practice of wife inheritance. This study is meant to describe and analyze the experience of widows who have undergone the practice of wife inheritance or were asked to follow this tradition. The study gathers the opinion of the widows, in regards to how they experienced the practice and whether they approved of the practice or not. The study also aims at exploring the different kinds of violence that women are subjected to during wife inheritance process. Related to violence, the study will focus on the economical, psychological/emotional, physical and sexual violence associated with the practice as experienced by the interviewed widows. The study acknowledges that women face violence in different stages of their lives from childhood to old age. In old age and adulthood, it includes the abuse of widows (economically and physically), depriving widows of their inheritance, sexual cleansing of widows and all violence associated with the tradition, culture and custom. The study draws on four different but related social work theories namely, feminist persective with a view on gender and intersectionality, the systems approach, social construction of reality and anti-oppressive approach. The data consists of key informant interviews with three leaders from the study area and eleven in depth interviews with widows who were inherited or were asked to be inherited. The findings of the study demonstrate that the views of the widows with regards to this tradition is not homogenous. Tradition vs modernity influences how one perceives the practice. The study also finds that consenting inheritance or not depends on many factors facing the widow more than just the willingness to be inherited or not, which is an issue of intersectionality. The study has also demostrated that the practice serves different beneficiaries and most of the times those who benefit from the practice in different circumstances tend to advocate for the continuation of the practice. Findings of the study show that the practice does not just benefit the widow. The study suggests that widows or women in this case should be made aware of their rights as equal citizens. They should be given a choice to either follow the tradition or not without fear of harmful consequencies like losing custody of their children and property. Key words: wife inheritance, gender based violence, feminist perspective, social construction of reality, anti-oppressive aproach, systems approach.
Masteroppgave i "Comparative social work" - Universitetet i Nordland, 2013