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Marriage, Perversion, and PowerThe Construction of Moral Discourse in Southern Rhodesia 1894-1930$
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Diana Jeater

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198203797

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203797.001.0001

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The Closing Door

The Closing Door

African Women and European Morality, 1916–1930

(p.227) 9 The Closing Door
Marriage, Perversion, and Power


Oxford University Press

This chapter demonstrates construction of a moral discourse in Southern Rhodesia that was influenced by the concept of morality brought into the region by the white Occupation. The criminalization of female adultery crystallized the idea that sexual acts could be wrong in themselves, a concept stressed by missionary groups to enforce Christian concepts of correct male and female gender roles. Sexual immorality provided another set of rules with which to control the behaviour of insubordinate women. The 1920s was a decade in which African women continued to assert their independence. The ideology of inherent ‘immorality’ of African women rose to prominence. By 1936, the long-awaited pass system for women was instituted in the shape of the Natives Registration Act, which put a check on the influx of young women who evade parental control and enter into an immoral life.

Keywords:   moral discourse, Southern Rhodesia, morality, adultery, sexual immorality, immorality, Natives Registration Act, African women

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