Rotuma - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Traditionally, Rotuman marriages were arranged by parents, although generally with the prior consent of the partners. Public courtship displays were frowned upon, so liaisons had to be formed surreptitiously. Courtship rules have been relaxed in recent years, but a strong concern remains for the decorum of unmarried youths. Marriages with second cousins are allowed. Postmarital residence with the wife's family is preferred, although movement between husband's and wife's natal homes is common over the span of a lifetime. Marriages are quite stable; the great majority are terminated only by the death of a spouse. Divorce is under the jurisdiction of Fijian courts, which are modeled on British law. Property is rarely involved, and young children are distributed by mutual agreement.

Domestic Unit. Households are defined in terms of sharing a common hearth and eating together. Household size has declined in response to out-migration, from an average of about 7.5 in 1960 to about 4.5 in 1988. Most consist of a Nuclear family, extended by relatives of either the husband or wife. Children are often left with grandparents when married couples emigrate, so three-and four-generation households are common. Since maintaining a household requires the labor of both men and women, single persons are often invited to become de facto members of a neighbor's household.

Inheritance. Each surviving child inherits an equal share in rights over family landholdings, although traditionally the senior male is favored in succession to stewardship. Today, however, it is often one of the younger siblings who remains behind to look after the family estate while elder siblings emigrate.

Socialization. Infants and children are cared for by both parents, by grandparents, and by elder siblings. Physical punishment is rare, and children's autonomy is respected. Children circulate freely between households in the vicinity of their household, and they are never excluded from adult-centered events. Value emphases are placed on sharing, Cooperation, and respecting the autonomy of others.

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