Man jailed for selling daughter

Date: January 1, 1970
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This article describes a situation where a man attempted to sell his daughter to a rich businessman in order to try and lift himself out of poverty. The businessman agreed to buy the girl for K35 000 (about ZAR 1,500), then went to the police and told them about it. The police arrested the man, who received a stiff sentence, despite being a first offender, for what the magistrate called ‘barbaric’ actions.

The article may be used to:-
1. Show how women and girls are still sometimes seen as material objects or property
2. Show oppression of girl children
3. Illustrate an example of the judicial system taking seriously the rights of women and girls
Trainers’ notes
The article shows how girl children are oppressed in society even by the people who are supposed to take care of them. The words used portray women as material objects that can be sold to fulfill economic needs. The article depicts a girl who is treated more as property than a person, and brings to mind cultural practices and traditions that foster this kind of thinking. The article however shows that such practices are no longer welcomed in society and they attract a punishable offense. The article highlights instances when rights of girls are violated.
The article does not excuse the man’s actions, despite his plea that he was only selling his daughter because he needed money to overcome poverty. Indeed, the article outright condemns what he did. Regardless of the reasons behind it, this article makes it very clear that the courts and society will not tolerate such actions. As such, it sends an overall positive message around the protection of the rights of women and girls, and shows a progressive step forward toward achieving those protections across the board.
Discussion Questions
1. Why did the reporter use the words "selling daughter"? Are people sold?
2. Why did the man offer a girl child and not a boy child? What cultural practices or traditions support his actions?
3. What lessons do we draw from both the father’s behaviour and the court’s response?
4. What laws are there in various countries to protect girl children? Are they adequate? What sometimes prevents laws on paper from being put into regular practice?
Training Exercises
1. Many cultures practice a kind of sanctioned ‘buying and selling’ of daughters through the payment of lobola or dowry, or through arranging marriages. Often these arrangements are made with a mind to bringing in money for the family. Would this man’s actions be seen differently if the transaction had been made through one of these culturally sanctioned routes? Are the actions themselves just as ‘barbaric’ in this context? Hold a debate around this issue.
2. Does the justice system work for women and girls? Is this case the norm or the exception? Write a letter to the editor with your response to this article and your views on the justice system.
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