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In Who's Interest? Levirat and Sororat Marriages in Southeastern Turkey

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Sororat refers to a man's marriage to his deceased wife's sister, and levirat refers to a woman's marriage to her brother-in-law after the death of her husband. This article explores the gendered reactions to tensions and role confusion in these marriages. Forty-five people who were either currently living, or have recently lived in levirat and sororat marriages were interviewed. We observed that family and kin seem to be equally persistent on formulating levirat or sororat types of marriages for widows and widowers. However, men had an ultimate veto power over these arrangements and women did not. Moreover, tensions on women, especially in terms of establishing sexual intimacy with their new partners were traumatic. We argue that material considerations play a primary role on the continuation of these marriages, despite the problems these marriages entail, especially for women.


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