Thursday, October 14, 2010

One Issue from the Moot Court competition in Benin

It's been interesting being a 'judge' for our school's moot court team's practice sessions preparing for the Moot Court competition that just happened in Benin.  The hypothetical cases that the students worked on were intriguing.  One case involved a fictitious country that had outlawed polygamy, but one man who had just married his second wife (and already paid her dowry) was objecting that the new law violated his rights and the rights of the second wife.  

Polygamy is still widespread in parts of Africa.  For example, the new president of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma, inaugurated this past May, just married his third wife.  In accordance with Zulu tradition, he had to first obtain permission from his first two wives to marry a third wife.  Rumors are that he is engaged to another.  He has 19 children from these wives plus one who died and another he divorced.  This is his fifth wedding.  Here is a link to a BBC story about his third marriage and a video of him celebrating with traditional Zulu dancing:

I found a world map showing countries that have polygamy.
(This is from wikipedia so I can't guarantee it's accurate.)

While polygamy refers to one man having multiple wives, there is also a practice of one woman having more than one husband called polyandry.  From what I read, this is practiced in Tibet and may mean that two brothers, or a father and son, would marry the same woman.  

When I was studying in Kenya during my college years, part of the program I was in included a family stay with a Samburu family from a herding culture on the savannah in Kenya.  I lived with a 15 year old woman, Noschule, who had two children and was the third wife.  Her husband was in his 50's or so.  Before she was married, a dowry of a certain number of cows was paid to Noschule's family as was required by custom.

The Moot Court competition asked students to look at customary practices and assess them in the context international human rights documents and treaties.

I was pleased to learn that the Moot Court team from our school won three of the four rounds they participated in at the Benin competition.

No comments:

Post a Comment