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African Human Rights Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 1996-2096
Print version ISSN 1609-073X


TAMALE, Sylvia. Exploring the contours of African sexualities: Religion, law and power. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2014, vol.14, n.1, pp.150-177. ISSN 1996-2096.

This article explores of the diverse ways through which organised religion, personal spiritual convictions, culture and the law shape, challenge and potentially transform the sexualities of African peoples. I argue that, through the intersection of religion, statutory law and reinterpreted traditional customs, the complexity of African sexualities (particularly those of women) is instrumentalised, controlled and regulated by the patriarchal state. As sources of power, the institutions of culture, religion and law structure sexual morality in such a way that it congeals into states of domination. Attempts to assert sexual citizenship have spawned social movements on the continent, challenging the dominant sexual discourses and demanding increased sexual autonomy and freedom. These movements have the potential to profoundly reshape our understanding of the links between sexualities and religion.

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