2018 / 21 minutes

Directed by
Richard Werbner
Country of production
United Kingdom

"Breaking-the-Yard" documents the court hearings and troubled affairs of a quarrelsome young couple, a stay-at-home farmer and his police constable, town-savvy wife. They claim to be still in love. But when the husband confesses to adultery – ‘breaking-the-yard’ in Tswana terms – and the wife decides to fight for her rights in court battles, in a way once not allowed to young women, their marriage broker and senior relative finds himself very awkwardly placed. Even with his own bishop, he struggles to reach a good resolution. This remains uncertain, as arguments in the village’s customary court turn from the adultery issue. The primary question is: has care for the couple duly been fulfilled by this elder and others? Questions are raised, also, about the competence of the court itself, the obligations under parental law, and the direction of customary law as living law, following shifts in the accepted definition of adultery and due process. The approach through documentary film affords a close entry into the processes of litigation from family moot to village court, and the prospects for appeal in the hierarchy to involve a magistrate, and possibly others in the judicial bureaucracy.

Language and subtitles
Tswana with English Subtitles
Location(s) depicted
Southern Africa
Family / Kinship Gender Role and Identity Law and Legislation / Bureaucracy Love Marriage

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