Hoping that her book will legally empower women

Khanyisile Nkosi

Khanyisile Nkosi

At 29 Nthabiseng Monareng, pictured, speaks with a voice of experience about women's ignorance of legal matters.

She says most women know how to bake bread and do the laundry, but that many still don't know their legal rights.

In her book A Simple Guide to South African Family Law Monareng gently guides and educates women and also men on the legal aspects of their personal lives.

She says the book is a guide for people undergoing court battles and covers issues of marriage, divorce, finances and marriage, cohabitation, same-sex unions, parental rights, domestic violence and inheritance.

Under these topics Monareng, a law graduate from Wits University, explains processes and steps that should be followed during disputes to help women empower themselves in their struggle for equality.

Q: What motivated you to write this book?

A: A lot of people, especially women, are unaware of the legal implications that come with relationships and they often lose out on what is legally theirs.

Q: Who are you targeting?

A: Both women and men.

Q: Why do women often find it difficult to interpret or understand the law?

A: The law is not easy for lay persons to understand and because we have so many laws in the country people tend to become confused.

Q: What are the common mistakes women make when interpreting the law and what has been the consequences of that?

A: Women often assume things. For example with cohabitation (vat en sit) women assume that when they live with a man for three or six months they will automatically be entitled to certain benefits. But that is not necessarily the case.

Another misconception is that women think if something feels right it must be legal. That's not the case.They never get legal advice to make sure.

Q: Do women who are in trouble know where to go for help?

A: Yes, most women know now where to go, but the problem is that most of these institutions are under-funded and the workload is sometimes too much to handle.

Q: How will this book help women?

A: It will guide them with their problems. The book is a step-by-step guide regarding aspects of family law. It will answer questions on family law and also provide guidance to those women undergoing court processes.

Q: What has been your personal experience when it came to interpreting laws

affecting women and children?

A: Women and children have been losing out, especially when it comes to inheritance and maintenance. Many married women are not aware that they have a right to claim spousal maintenance. When a husband does not support a wife during a divorce, she only claims child maintenance. Many women are also not aware that you can claim future maintenance for a child if the father has a history of not supporting the child.

Q: Have you always yearned to become a writer or did it happen by default?

A: It was not my dream to write a book and it happened by default. When I started writing, it was meant to be a manual. It was only after I had completed the manuscript that I realised I had actually written a book.

Q: What advice would you give women with regards to family law?

A: Women should never take anything for granted. They must make it their duty to educate themselves on legal matters that affect them and must stop assuming things.