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Cohabitation study looks at legalities of couples who live together without marrying

28 July 2009: More and more men and women in Namibia are choosing to live together without being married to one another. Many of these relationships resemble marriage in every way except that they lack formal legal recognition and protection under the law. Because of this legal distinction, cohabiting Namibians experience many problems that married couples do not face.

When a cohabiting couple breaks up or when one partner dies, individuals often suffer because there are no legal mechanisms in place for matters such as property distribution, maintenance, benefits or inheritance. In some areas, practices like “property grabbing” also contribute to the problems suffered by cohabiting women. Furthermore, because men are usually the breadwinners in Namibian society, vulnerable women and children tend to suffer most.

The Legal Assistance Centre is conducting research in conjunction with Namibia’s Law Reform and Development Commission, which has identified law reform on cohabitation as a high priority. Currently, three Legal Assistance Centre volunteers and two Law Reform and Development Commission attorneys are conducting focus group discussions and interviews in locations across the country. They are compiling information from members of the public and key stakeholders on cohabitation and the possible legal solutions to the problems that cohabitants face. Using this information and other research, the team will prepare a report that contains recommendations for law reform.

The Legal Assistance Centre welcomes the opportunity to provide more information on cohabitation to your media outlet. The research team would be able to provide meaningful information that affects a wide number of Namibians and discuss some of the key issues central to this topic.

Available for interview are:

Kaylan Lasky
Research Intern
Gender, Research & Advocacy Project
Legal Assistance Centre, Windhoek
email: kelasky@gmail.com
Rachel Coomer
Public Outreach Manager
Gender, Research & Advocacy Project
Legal Assistance Centre, Windhoek
ph: 061-223-356
email: rcoomer@lac.org.na

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