Perceptions of Women on Marriage in Namibia


Marital pattern in a Namibian society is predominantly of never married women, and the rates are increasing, while the proportion of those getting married is falling, nevertheless, these proportions decline as age increases. Quantitative research revealed differences in marital status by place of residence, education level and age group suggesting that aspects of culture, marriage practices and customs change over time. Focus group discussions of 6 - 9 participants were conducted to construct supplementary in-depth understanding of women’s feelings and attitudes towards marriage in Namibia. Results indicated that women felt that marriage was still important for family formation. The practice of early marriage was reported to be still happening especially in remote rural areas but was on the decline. Marital union choice was dictated by parental guidance, childhood sexual abuse, poverty, culture, age, and religion. Most marriages were not stable and divorces were increasing due to issues of infidelity, poor communication, inpatience and intolerance, step children, financial matters, alcohol and drug abuse, young age at marriage, witchcraft allegations, in-law relationships and even poor cooking. Cohabitation was promoted by exorbitant lobola, marriage costs, modernization, media influences, poverty, and flexibility. The risks associated with cohabiting were gender based violence and passion killings in the event of dissolution and lack of legal representation framework especially with respect to property in the event of partner death. Among the never married women, reasons for not marrying included absence of acceptable mate on the marriage market; need for independence, infertility, fear of abusive relationships, bad past experiences, heart aches, and lack of good married role models to inspire them to also marry.

Share and Cite:

Indongo, N. and Pazvakawambwa, L. (2015) Perceptions of Women on Marriage in Namibia. Psychology, 6, 1413-1420. doi: 10.4236/psych.2015.611137.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Arnaldo, C. (2004) Ethnicity and Marriage Patterns in Mozambique. African Population Studies, 19, 143-164.
[2] Bigombe, B., & Khadiagala, G. M. (2003). Major Trends Affecting Families in Sub-Saharan Africa.
[3] Bocquier P., & Khasakhala, A. (2009). Factors Influencing Union Formation in Nairobi, Kenya. Journal of Biosocial Sciences, 41, 433-455.
[4] Budlender, D., Ntebaleng, C., & Sandile, S. (2004). Marriage Patterns in South Africa: Methodological and Substantive Issues. Southern African Journal of Demography, 9, 1-25.
[5] Correa, S. (1994). Population and Reproductive Rights: Feminist Perspectives from the South. London: Zed Books Ltd.
[6] De Singly, F., & Cichelli, V. (2003). Contemporary Families: Social Reproduction and Personal Fulfilment. In D. Kertzer, & M. Barbagli (Eds.), History of the European Family, Volume 3: Family Life in the Twentieth Century (pp. 311-349). New Haven: Yale University Press.
[7] Duvander, A. Z., Lappegard, T., & Andersson, G. (2010). Family Policy and Fertility: Fathers’ and Mothers’ Use of Parental Leave and Continued Childbearing in Norway and Sweden. Journal of European Social Policy, 20, 45-57.
[8] Ekane, D. (2013).
[9] Gerntholtz, L., Gibbs, A., & Willan, S. (2011). The African Women’s Protocol: Bringing Attention to Reproductive Rights and the MDGs. Public Library of Science Medicine, 8, 1-4.
[10] Larson, J. H., & Holman, T. B. (1994). Premarital Predictors of Marital Quality and Stability. Family Relation, 43, 228-237.
[11] Ludidi, W. Z. (2015). Sociological Factors Influencing Childbearing Decisions in Rural Areas, with Specific Reference to the Eastern Cape. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Johannesburg: University of Johannesburg.
[12] Luke, N. (2001). The Cultural Significance of Widowhood: Widow Inheritance and the Position of Luo Widows in the 1989 Kenya Census. Paper Prepared for the Virtual Conference on African Households, Population Studies Centre, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 21-24 November 2001.
[13] Merrick, T. (2002). Population and Poverty: New Views on an Old Controversy.
[14] Mokomane, Z. (2006). Cohabiting Unions in Sub-Saharan, Explaining Botswana’s Exceptionality. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 37, 25-42.
[15] Palamuleni, L. G., & Palamuleni, M. E. (2011). Spatial Variation of Age at Marriage in South Africa. Journal of Social Science, 29, 39-46.
[16] Palamuleni, M. E. (2010). Recent Marriage Patterns in South Africa 1996-2007. Bangladesh e-Journal of Sociology, 7, 47-70.
[17] Pauli, J. (2010). Demographic and Anthropological Perspectives on Marriage and Reproduction in Namibia. In W. Möhlig, O. Bubenzer, & G. Menz (Eds.), Towards Interdisciplinarity (pp. 203-232). Cologne: Heinrich-Barth-Institut.
[18] Rakgoasi, & Gaise (1999). Population Growth and Composition. In S. K. Gaise, & R. G. Majelantles (Eds.), Demography of Botswana: Change in Population Size and Structure (pp. 33-76). Gaborone: Mmegi Publishing House.
[19] Raley, R. K. (2001). Increasing Fertility in Cohabiting Unions: Evidence for the Second Demographic Transition in the United States? Demography, 38, 59-66.
[20] Seltzer, J. A. (2000). Families Formed Outside Marriage. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62, 1247-1268.
[21] Shapiro, D., & Gebreselassie, T. (2014). Marriage in Sub-Saharan Africa: Trends Determinants and Consequences, Population Research Review, 33, 229-225.
[22] Sippel, S. (2008). Achieving Global Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. Human Rights, 35, 13.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.