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Worries of the HeartWidows, Family, and Community in Kenya$
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Kenda Mutongi

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226554198

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226554228.001.0001

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Wife Beating

Wife Beating

(p.149) Chapter Thirteen: Wife Beating
Worries of the Heart
University of Chicago Press

This chapter investigates wife beating in western Kenya. Many of the King's African Rifle (KAR) marriages were tormented by emotional and physical conflict, and it was woefully hard for young couples to maintain a marriage in the absence of men during World War II. The widowed mothers saw the courts as allied to their interests, despite the fact that they usually ruled against their daughters' petitions for divorce. They also wanted their daughters to stay married because they believed in the respectability of the institution of marriage. The testimony of widows and their daughters shows that the technical reforms introduced in African courts helped turn courtrooms into arenas where resolution of marital conflicts could take place. Moreover, the courtrooms became one of the few places where women could speak out, where they could dare look men in the eye and ask them for help.

Keywords:   wife beating, King's African Rifle marriages, World War II, divorce, widows, African courts, courtrooms

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