Marital Power Finally Obliterated: The History of the Abolition of the Marital Power in Civil Marriages in Eswatini




Women, Marital Power, Discrimination, Emancipation, Advocacy, Judicial Activism, Eswatini, Swaziland


Women's subordination is not new in the world. As society became human rights conscious, many countries started abrogating or scrapping discriminatory laws and attitudes towards women, in particular married women. However, it has taken Eswatini more than 100 years to deal with the fact that the common law principle of marital power discriminates against women.

This paper traces the reception of marital power into the legal framework of Eswatini and how advocacy groups on women's rights and freedoms have opposed women's subordination, fortified by research. This paper presents a desktop review of selected literature and case laws touching on women's emancipation in Eswatini.

This research work is significant in that it adds to the body of knowledge by recording the origins of women's subjection to marital power and their eventual emancipation in the landmark case of Sacolo v Sacolo (1403/2016) [2019] SZHC 166 (30 August 2019).




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General Law and Administration Proclamation 4 of 1907

Constitution Act 001 of 2005 (Kingdom of Eswatini)

Marriage Act 47 of 1964

International Instruments

Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003)

The Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women (1981)

Case Law

Attorney-General v Mary Joyce Doo Aphane (unreported) Civil Appeal case 12/2010

Letsweletse Motshidie Mang v Attorney General (unreported) MAHGB -000591-16, 11th June 2019.

Makhosazane Eunice Sacolo (nee Dlamini) and Women and Law - Eswatini v Jukhi Justice Sacolo (unreported) (1403/16) 2019 SZHC (166)

Nombuyiselo Sihlongonyane v Mholi Sihlongonyane (unreported) SZHC Case No. 470/2013 A

List of abbreviations

RSA Republic of South Africa

HIV Human Immunodeficiency Virus

AIDS Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

SZHC Swaziland High Court



How to Cite

Mavundla, S. D., Strode, A., & Dlamini, D. C. . (2020). Marital Power Finally Obliterated: The History of the Abolition of the Marital Power in Civil Marriages in Eswatini. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 23, 1–19.



Case Notes