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May I have sex with your wife?

14 April 2014, 14:34

Abuja - Tradition is important for a number of reasons. Not only does it link us to our history, it also creates pride and a sense of unity amongst specific groups.

But what happens when new world principles and issues oppose old customs?

One such custom that has sparked controversy is wife-swapping. News24 reports that the practice, known as okujepisa omukazendu which means “offering a wife to a guest”, is commonly done among the Ovahimba and Ovasemba tribes residing in the north-western Kunene region of Namibia.

As much as it’s a custom that has been practiced for generations amongst Namibia’s nomadic tribes, a call from Kazeongere Tjeundo, the vice-president of the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance(DTA), to protect the custom as law has sparked debate on the relevance of tradition in modern society and raised concern about women’s rights and the health risks associated with such a practice.

Unlike swinging, which involves non-monogamous behavior, in which partners in a committed relationship engage in sexual activities with others as a recreational or social activity, critics and gender activists say that in Namibia, wife swapping is actually rape. They argue that the wives generally don’t have a say in the matter, that it is the husbands who decide and agree on whose wife they can have sex with.

Those against the practice see it as a violation of human rights and women’s rights. The health concerns associated with the practice stem around the fact that Namibia has one of the world’s highest HIV/AIDS rates, and critics fear that legalising this custom will make the transmitting of sexual diseases more prevalent in the country.

The debate makes one wonder whether tradition has a place in modern society.

Should certain practices adapt to a changing world with opposing views, or should they be abolished at the risk of dismantling tradition and cultural groups?

 - Women24

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