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Conflict and compliance: Christianity and the occult in horticultural exporting.

Authors
  • Dolan, C S
Type
Published Article
Journal
Gender and development
Publication Date
Mar 01, 1999
Volume
7
Issue
1
Pages
23–30
Identifiers
PMID: 12295338
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

The introduction of export horticulture in Meru District, Kenya, brought about disadvantageous effects on female farmers. Their workload increased while their earnings did not. Women reacted by turning to Christianity for support, and resorted to traditional witchcraft to regain control. In this article, Christianity and witchcraft are presented as ways of expressing discontent with the prevailing social norms, and as means to reclaim autonomy and security within their households. Since Kenyan women are entailed to meet the standards of being a good Christian wife, in which women are submissive to their husbands, the church became a means of escaping the confinements of their marriage. In Meru, Christian conversion offers a means of coping with life and an opportunity to interact with other women who share the same experience. Another strategy adopted by women is witchcraft, a traditional relic wherein women give "potions" to their husbands to induce psychosis and eventually death, which would then leave control of the household to the woman. In conclusion, the case presented here demonstrates how failure to recognize cultural dynamics leads to gender inequity and worsens women's well being, as well as men's security.

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