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Traditional Courts Bill to be reviewed

The Traditional Courts Bill is in for an overhaul, says Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana.

The announcement was made by the minister at the launch of Women’s Month in Pretoria on Wednesday.

The department has been calling for a review of the bill over concern that it would undermine the rights of women in rural areas, saying that women in the rural areas were not consulted.

Xingwana on Wednesday said flaws were identified in the bill in its current form, and women were not consulted and denied the right to self-representation during public hearings on the bill.

She said she had met with Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe to raise some concerns regarding the bill and he agreed that it needed a complete overhaul.

Concerns raised by Xingwana included some of the articles in the bill, which were “not acceptable” such as recognising cultural practices like ukungenwa and ukuthwalwa (abduction and forced marriages).

“[The bill] doesn’t give women an option out of traditional court if they live in a village and strips them of their democratic rights to choose magistrates courts if they so wish,” said Xingwana.

Rural women’s lack of access to resources and basic services, Xingwana said, was compounded by their unequal rights in family structures and unequal access to family resources such as land and livestock, as well as oppressive traditional practices. SAnews.gov.za

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