Wovan - Marriage and Family

Marriage. The Wovan are monogamous by rule, although a few isolated instances of polygyny do occur. They state a rule of preferential parallel-cousin marriage with sister Exchange, but genealogical manipulation to achieve the desired relationship status after the fact is common. The majority of marriages are the products of elopement rather than arrangement, with women taking an active role in initiating marital transactions. While fathers play a prominent role in disputes over their daughters' marriages, brothers (whose own marital futures are dependent on their sisters) take the leading role in all marital arrangements. Bride-prices are small and men boast of not paying. Postmarital residence is patrilocal (both ideally and statistically). Wovan marriages are remarkably stable. In the first month following elopement, relationships are very unstable, but once a domicile has been established, one can expect a permanent relationship. Normatively, Divorce is impossible; even infertility is not considered grounds for divorce.

Domestic Unit. The household—consisting of an extended family (or minimal lineage) of brothers, their wives, and unmarried children—forms the basic domestic unit.

Inheritance. Inheritance of land rights is through the patriline, and, theoretically this is immutable. Numerous cases of affiliation through matrilateral connections can be demonstrated. Individually owned wealth is also inherited in the patriline.

Socialization. The arrival of the Anglican church in 1977 introduced a mission school for the first time. Prior to that, socialization was accomplished by the explicit teachings of parents and elder siblings, as well as the imitative strategies of children. Children may occasionally be reprimanded verbally and even more occasionally be subjected to a cuffing, but physical punishment of children is rare.

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