Anth 100.Stiles Erin.There is No Stranger to Marriage Here.Muslim Women and Divorce in Rural Zanziba

Anth 100.Stiles Erin.There is No Stranger to Marriage Here.Muslim Women and Divorce in Rural Zanziba

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International African Institute 'There Is No Stranger to Marriage Here!': Muslim Women and Divorce in Rural Zanzibar Author(s): Erin Stiles Reviewed work(s): Source: Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 75, No. 4 (2005), pp. 582- 598 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the International African Institute Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3556962 . Accessed: 01/02/2013 22:18 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] . Cambridge University Press and International African Institute are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Africa: Journal of the International African Institute. http://www.jstor.org This content downloaded on Fri, 1 Feb 2013 22:18:59 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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Africa 75 (4), 2005 'THERE IS NO STRANGER TO MARRIAGE HERE!': MUSLIM WOMEN AND DIVORCE IN RURAL ZANZIBAR Erin Stiles Many disputes in rural Zanzibari Islamic courts concern whether or not a divorce has taken place outside of court. Zanzibari men have the right to divorce their wives unilaterally through repudiation without the approval of the wife or the court. The wife need not be present at the episode of repudiation for it to be legally valid, and it is therefore common for men to divorce their wives while away from them. As a result, women often rely on the structural events of divorce rather than an actual statement of repudiation as evidence of the end of a marriage. These structural events are the prominent experiences that a rural Zanzibari woman undergoes at the time of divorce. The most important are leaving her husband's home to return to her family and the removal of her marriage goods from her husband's home. Disputes about divorce arise when women want to remarry or when men ask their former wives to return to them and resume married life. While some women agree to return, others seek official validation for the alleged divorce in Islamic courts by requesting an official divorce receipt. This article examines women's divorce experience and analyses three court cases to demonstrate how disputes about alleged divorce arise and what happens when they are taken to court. One of the cases was opened by Shindano, a woman about sixty years old, who came to court to ask for a receipt verifying that she had been divorced by her husband, Abu Bakr. She related her husband's many violations of his marital duties and the anguish he had caused her. She said he divorced her, but later he came to her home and announced that they were still married and demanded that she return to him. She said, 'He chased me out of his house, he got
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