Human rights violations: probing the cultural practice of ukuthwala in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa

  • Pfarelo Matshidze
  • Kugara Stewart Lee
  • Mdhluli Tsetselelani Decide


The purpose of thisarticle is to critically examine girl-child abduction in the name of a cultural practice, ukuthwala, in the 21st century. The article puts under spotlight the unadulterated ancient cultural practice of ukuthwala vis-à-vis the distorted and devilish living customary law that leads to abduction andgirl-childabuse; sexual exploitation, rape and child labour.In antiquity, African cultural practices (especially the customary marriage of ukuthwala) were designed and practiced in harmony due to the era they were in, hence it is very difficult for some Africans to abandon. It is because of this religious resilience of the cultural practice that numerous girls’ rights have been violated. Literature review, black-letter law, face-to-face interviews and case studies formed the basis of the research methodology employed.A human rights based approach and an African theory of study were adopted to give an objective contemporary view to this phenomenon.In making recommendations to this complex phenomenon, the researchers were guided by existing laws and the sentiments of Knowledge Holders (KH) to propose a multi-dimensional holistic approach to conscientise those who still practice the custom. Recommendations for policy and further research are suggested.

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eISSN: 1596-9231