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“A man cannot in law be convicted of rape upon his own wife”: Custom, Christianity, Colonialism, and Sexual Consent in Forced Marriage Cases, British colonial Africa, 1932-1945

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The mid-twentieth century saw an upsurge in campaigns around forced and early marriage in British colonial Africa, as missionaries, feminist organizations, colonial officials, and African communities contested the terms of marriage and gender relations in colonial settings. The issue of sexual consent in marriage proved an important battleground on which these contestations were fought. This paper seeks to explore how differing notions of consent – those embedded in notions of African ‘custom’, articulated through colonial courts, espoused by European missionaries, and expressed by African women and girls, came into tension in such cases.

This talk was delivered at the 2018 Religion and Rape Culture Conference. Click here to see more videos.

Rhian Elinor Keyse is an AHRC-funded PhD student at the Centre for Imperial and Global History, University of Exeter. Rhian’s doctoral research focuses on imperial, international, and local responses to forced and early marriage in British colonial Africa, 1920-62. Rhian completed her BA in History at Cambridge before moving to Oxford to pursue an MSc in African Studies. She has recently held a Kluge Fellowship at the Library of Congress, as well as a Global Humanitarian Research Academy Fellowship. She is also an experienced activist and practitioner in the gender-based violence sector.

Header image:  Conference artist Lily Clifford talking Rhian Keyse through the creative response to Keyse’s research.

Tags : African studiesBritish Colonial AfricaColonial studiesConsentforced marriageReligion and Rape CultureReligion and Rape Culture conference
Rhian Keyse

The author Rhian Keyse

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