A Case of Insult: Honour and Reputation in the Customary Court
Richard Werbner (University of Manchester)
Paper short abstract:
The chapter considers the significance of honour and dignity for villagers in rural Botswana, focusing on cases of insult, public shaming and redemptive demand for recognition in village courts.
Paper long abstract:
This chapter focuses on cases of insults, frequently heard in customary village courts. In such cases, what is at stake is often not merely the outcome or financial compensation for accusers, but even more, the public shaming of a person or the redemptive demand by the dishonoured for recognition and dignity. Very often the cases are between women of different ages, young as well as old, and about insults, including witchcraft accusations. The central case in this chapter was heard in a ward moot in which an attempt was made to persuade the accused to drop her accusations, since these would undoubtedly lead to her imprisonment if taken to the village court. It was widely recognised by the moot members that the accused was unwell physically and mentally, and thus not fully responsible for her utterances, however offensive, but it was nevertheless important to prevent the case from going forward to the (village) court, which was likely to mete out severe punishment. The chapter considers the significance of honour and dignity for villagers.
The anthropology of emotions and law [LAW NET]