Publication details

The Meaning of Adabu and Adhabu for the ‘Child Protection’ Discourse in Zanzibar. SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, Vol 9 (2016).

Article
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Author(s): Fay, Franziska
Year of publication: 2016

Abstract: This paper considers the relevance of the concepts of adabu (manners/discipline) and adhabu (punishment/chastisement) in the discourse concerning child protection in Zanzibar. It builds on data gained during 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Zanzibar Town between January 2014 to July 2015, which explored children's and teachers' ideas around personhood, protection and punishment in primary and Qur'anic schools partially involved in (inter)national 'Positive Discipline' (adabu mbadala) programmes. Recent efforts by international NGOs in cooperation with the Zanzibari government to forbid corporal punishment in schools are repeatedly rejected by students and teachers, as universalised child protection approaches fail to pay adequate attention to the socio-cultural and religious meanings of child disciplining practices. I argue that the notions of adabu and adhabu are central to understanding children's and teachers' attitudes towards seemingly protective interventions in Zanzibari schools. This article offers an exploration of the meanings, (mis)translations and uses of the concepts within the child protection discourse. By illustrating how these interventions may translate locally as an interference with children's journey towards full social personhood (utu), a call emerges for a re-evaluation of globalised protection programmes. Taking Zanzibari children's and adults' perceptions as a point of departure, this article suggests the need for child protection policies and practices that move beyond universalised ideas of well-being and towards more meaningful approaches of protecting children in their everyday environments.

Keywords: child protection, personhood, Zanzibar, discipline, punishment

Subject(s): ethnology

Full text: https://www.soas.ac.uk/research/rsa/journalofgraduateresearch/edition-9/file117443.pdf

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