Venia Magaya's Sacrifice

Venia Magaya's Sacrifice

A Case of Custom Gone Awry

Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Trust

On the 13 May 1999, for the first time in the history of the courts in Zimbabwe, women from all walks of life gathered in protest at the Supreme Court. The reason was the court’s ruling in the case known as ‘Magaya v Magaya’. Venia Magaya had looked after her parents all her life, and paid their rent to the Harare authorities. But she was disinherited upon the death of her father in favour of her half-brother – a judgement predicated on traditional customary law. The protesters which included national, regional and international NGOs argued that the ruling set a retrogressive precedent in advocating women’s rights, bringing to light the internal contradictions in Zimbabwe’s laws, and with respect to international obligations.

Women & Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) has documented Venia Magaya’s story as a case history to complement studies on women and the justice delivery system. The study presents the legal case and process, and makes recommendations for amendments to the law of inheritance, so that it may deliver greater justice for women. The publication is evidence that the pioneering work of women engaging with the justice system is challenges that system, and aims to encourage more women to do so.

ISBN 9781779150059 | 84 pages | 246 x 189 mm | 2001 | Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Trust, Zimbabwe | Paperback

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About the Author

Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Trust

Women in Law in Southern Africa-Malawi is the Malawi branch of the prestigious Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Trust (WLSA). WLSA was born of a group of women and men in southern Africa who wanted to advance the legal situation of women; and was founded in 1988 at a regional conference held in Zimbabwe by a group of lawyers and social scientists. It is regional and action-orientated and aims to improve the situation of women through advocacy and lobbying for law and policy changes. The organization works in the following southern African countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Since inception, WLSA has undertaken research and published several titles on women and the law on, for example, women and the administration of justice; family related issues; the changing concept of the family; and gendered African traditions, women human rights law.

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