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Does the Law Work in Their Favor? The Complexity of Land Rights of Women Living in Polygamous Relationships in Rwanda

Jeannette Bayisenge


This article discusses the influences of polygamy on women’s experiences in relation to land rights in Rwanda. It derives from a study that targeted 480 women in the Musanze District. The findings show that despite the criminalization of polygamy, polygamy has not disappeared, but has instead been changing and adapting itself to new circumstances. Scholars have argued that polygamous procedures and its criminalization are harmful to women. It seems that removing criminal sanctions but still recognizing polygamy as detrimental to gender equality can be a more effective way to help women involved in such relationships. But existential consideration and marital negotiations offer a different conclusion.


Polygamy; Polygamous Relationships; Women; Land Rights

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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