“Talk to my father”: re-thinking social exclusion and access to justice in the context of bridewealth negotiation
Diala, Jane C
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Broadly, the concept of social exclusion denotes a condition in which peopie are unabie to voice their opinion freeiy and fuiiy in matters affecting their iives. It often manifests as unequai respect for, and protection of people's rights based on gender, age, race, and simiiar demographics. Sociai inciusion has become a concern for poiicy deveiopment and impiementation, particuiariy in cuiturai matters, where tensions often arise between traditionai norms and universaiist State iaws. In this context, brideweaith payment in Southern Nigeria presents an intriguing iens for examining social exclusion. Here, women's exciusion from their own brideweaith negotiation iiiustrates the interpiay of agency and unequai power reiations, 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.