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21 Queen's L.J. 221 (1995-1996)
A Different Form of Apartheid - The Legal Status of Married Women in South Africa

handle is hein.journals/queen21 and id is 233 raw text is: A Different Form of Apartheid?
The Legal Status of Married Women in
South Africa
Jacqueline Krikorian
In South Africa, a husband has had many rights over his wife's person, property, and
actions. Women have been deemed to be inferior to their husbands and pigeon.holed into
certain categories, depending on their type of marriage, the year in which they were married,
and their racial classification. Common, statutory, and customary laws have been used to
legitimize the inequality and oppression that women experienced. These have combined to
form another type of apartheid, which continues to operate through the current hierarchical
pattern of marital reform. Although improvements to the legal status of women in a civil
marriage were made in December 1993, politicians largely ignored the rights of women in
customary marriages as the 1994 elections approached. As such, it is unclear whether women
married under customary law will be denied the benefits of the equality provisions of the new
Bill of Rights.
I.   The Legal Status of Women in a Civil Marriage
A.   The Marital Rape Exemption Under Common Law
B.   Asian, Coloured and White Women Married Before 1984
C.   Black Women Married Before 1988
D.   Asian, Coloured and White Women Married After 1984, and Black Women
Married After 1988
E.   Recent Statutory Reforms
11. Women Married Under Customary Law
A.   The Wife's Legal Status
B. Limited Reforms
III. Tentative Observations
* This paper was written as an individual research project during the winter 1994
term at the Faculty of Law, Queen's University. I would like to thank Bev Baines, Ian
Farlam and Paul Farlam for their encouragement and valuable comments on earlier

J. Krikorian

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