Base de Datos Género y Derecho a la Tierra


Normas consuetudinarias, creencias religiosas y prácticas sociales que influyen en el derecho a la tierra diferenciado por género

In most communal areas, traditional leaders, such as headmen, chiefs, indunas and kings, control the land. These, with few exceptions, are men. Land may also be distributed to extended families, which distribute it to men. Married men may then bring their wives to live in a patrilocal village. Women, both married and unmarried, therefore gain access to land through their husbands, brothers, uncles or parental families. The control of land is therefore usually in the hands of men, while women are more often involved in using the land, such as, for instance, in tending crops (14).

In matrilineal communities, such as the Owambo and Okavango, the custom is that spouses have some control over their own individual property in marriage, divorce and inheritance issues. Nevertheless, matrilineal uncles and brothers make more decisions and usually approach the traditional leader to be allocated a parcel of land (14).

In matrilineal and patrilineal systems, wives need the consent of their husbands for property transactions, while husbands do not need the consent of their wives. Also under the matrilineal system, immovable properties, such as houses, tend to be treated as men’s property, regardless of which spouse actually acquired them. Furthermore, under matrilineal systems, the control of movable property, such as livestock, is usually vested in the wife’s male relatives (14).

Customary marriages in most communities are potentially polygamous and not registered. These marriages are regulated primarily by unwritten customary laws that differ from community to community. For example, in Herero communities, civil marriages are usually technically in community of property, while husband and wife have separate movable property in terms of customary law.

It is not uncommon, in regions other than the Caprivi, for a couple to marry in terms of both civil and customary law and to rely upon different legal and social norms, depending on the situation at hand.

It also occurs that a man is married under civil law to one wife and is cohabiting with a second wife under customary law. When the husband dies, the woman married according to civil law often lays claim to a portion of the deceased’s property that could also be claimed by the other wife (14).

The custom of lobola, the payment of bride’s wealth by the husband to the wife’s guardian, is one the most enduring institutions of customary law and is applied to civil marriages as well. Although not a requirement for a valid civil marriage, it is seen as indispensable to create the status of a married woman for the wife and to transfer her into the family of her husband (15).

Fuentes: los números entre paréntesis (*) se refieren a las fuentes que están en la sección de Bibliografía