Wife Beating

in Worries of the Heart

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780226554198
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226554228 | DOI:
Wife Beating

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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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

Chapter.  4769 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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