Gendered penalties of divorce on remarriage in Nigeria: a qualitative study

Suleman Lazarus, Michael Rush, Edward Tochukwu, Claire Monks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Seeking the views of university-educated Nigerians in Lagos and Abuja (the previous and current capital cities respectively), our study explores gendered perspectives on the issue of remarriage after divorce to gain a deeper understanding of how customary, Islamic and statutory laws intersect. We build on previous studies (e.g. Therborn, 2004) to highlight that from the 1930s onwards, marital aspects of modern customary laws may be more patriarchal than some pre-colonial ones due to the colonial codification of customary laws in Africa. The empirical basis of our study is interviews with 24 Nigerian men and women, including female divorcees. The results suggest that what Ibrahim (2015) calls “the sociocultural penalties of divorce” are borne more heavily by women, and this is exacerbated because traditional or customary laws in modern Nigeria were re-shaped by colonial Christian codification. We conclude that while Yoruba people seem to have thwarted some of the more negative legacies of religious codification on traditional laws more than other major ethnic groups, customary laws in Nigeria still require re-codification to take on board the perspectives of African feminism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-366
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • African feminism
  • remarriage
  • penalties of divorce
  • Patriarchy
  • stigma
  • colonial codification
  • citizenship legislation


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