Volume: Volume 25 (2021) Special Issue
Article type: Refereed article
Author/s: Jane C Diala
Broadly, the concept of social exclusion denotes a condition in which people are unable to voice their opinion freely and fully in matters affecting their lives. It often manifests as unequal respect for, and protection of people’s rights based on gender, age, race, and similar demographics. Social inclusion has become a concern for policy development and implementation, particularly in cultural matters, where tensions often arise between traditional norms and universalist State laws. In this context, bridewealth payment in Southern Nigeria presents an intriguing lens for examining social exclusion. Here, women’s exclusion from their own bridewealth negotiation illustrates the interplay of agency and unequal power relations, two twin elements that affect access to justice and policy development. So, in what ways does women’s exclusion from bridewealth negotiation broaden understanding of access to justice and development programming? This article argues that women’s cultural exclusion from bridewealth negotiation hinders their agency in marriage under customary law. Using data obtained from Southern Nigeria in 2016, it shows how the sustenance of social exclusion stands at the intersection of law, culture, and justice.