Ukuthwala is meant to be consensual, says Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo

Child marriage remains a highly contested issue in South Africa, highlighting the various socio-economic and legal issues surrounding it.

702/Cape Talk's Redi Tlhabi spoke to legal expert, Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo, regarding the practice (referred to as ukuthwala) in rural commuities across the country.

Listen to the conversation below:

The law in South Africa has always been very clear since the passing of the 1998 the age of marriage has been 18, but I think the topical issue is the issue of ikuthwala.

Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo, former Private Law professor

If you think of ukuthwala, there is a school of thought that makes a demonstrably solid case that you could look at it at the time as something reasonably progressive.

Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo, former Private Law professor

Ukuthwala was consensual, so you're talking about people who were already lovers...The reasons were usually a safety valve for lovers to slip out of parental authoritarianism for a list of reasons.

Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo, former Private Law professor

The question is one of culture versus what we conceive as human rights is a big debate.

Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo, former Private Law professor

There are so many short cuts that we take when we deal with culture, particularly with culture and human rights. And a lot of the time in the short cuts, is to default to a value system which is not African.

Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo, former Private Law profesor

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