WIDOWHOOD AND ITS HARMFUL PRACTICES
Widowhood is a tragedy that befalls a married person as a result of the timely or untimely death of the spouse. In many cultures, widowhood in women is considered as stigma and widows as inauspicious. Various tribes and cultures in Africa have diverse ways of practicing rites pertaining to burial, but traditions are particularly hard on women. Culturally widowhood burial rites involve varying degrees of physical hardship, deprivation, ritual contamination, emotional instability, socioeconomic and psychological trauma. Widowhood Practices in Africa involve dehumanizing rites and rituals which women are mandated to follow. Widowhood is often the beginning of life-long oppression and misery for women.
African widows do not enjoy the best of health due to pressure of conforming to widowhood practice. A lot of sanctions placed on widow by the society make it difficult for women to express their view point in widowhood.
Some of the practices widows are meant to pass through on loosing their husbands are indeed demonic such as shaving of hair on the head, drinking of remains of bath water used to wash the husbands corpses, mourn her husband death for about three to twelve month depending on the ethnic group, right of inheritance, women do not have right to inherit land or property, widow are not allowed to bathe, clean her surrounding during mourning period, on rare cases once bath a day, having to or been forced to marry her late husband’s brother, been forcefully ejected out of her late husband’s house.
This practices should be strictly condemned as it has a lot of adverse effects on the widow and her children. Some become permanently emotionally deranged, some become homeless and hopeless, some turn to street beggars, futures and dreams of some are cut short, some struggle to survive and many more.
HOW TO MITIGATE SUCH PRACTICES
*African Communities must nourish, not starve widows and their children of their rights.
*The right of inheritance should be geared to the widow and her children.
*Everyone should join forces from every sphere of the society to eradicate the harmful practices on widows through organized programs, social medias, etc.