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THE DEVELOPING WORLD, WIDOWHOOD AND INHERITANCE

Women make up half of the world’s population, they nurture, the earth and its beings, yet burdened by the poverty and problems associated with women, men, children and the environment. It is disheartening too know that several African countries have non-implementable, non-implementing, or refused to be implemented law on widowhood and inheritance, and even when they are ready to implement this law, it takes the lifetime of the affected woman before judgment is proclaimed, this due to the cumbersome nature of out courts proceedings.

Widowhood and inheritance should not be a subject for 2010, if we are really developing, but today they are two peculiar challenges faced by women yet unaddressed by our leaders through their non-implementable instruments, it will be right then to say that the laws of the clan supersedes that of the land, or do we agree that the problems of our women is the least of our governments’ problems. Will it also not be wrong to conclude that gender imbalance or unequal representation of gender at the helms of affair has part to play in this? Stories and unending cries, it is unbelievable that some women have to be married to their brother in law in order to have access to their children and their husband’s property, mind you they worked together for the property and when we dig deep, into productive roles, and activity profile we will submit to the fact that women play overwhelming roles in the acquisition of these property, yet are denied of them, after the death of their spouses.

Apart from India, that ensures that all inheritance go to the wife, there are no countries in our developing world who is truly interested in the plight of the widows and their inheritance, this is a condition not desired by any woman but accepted because no one can question her maker. Several women in the developing world have been denied the right and desire to mourn their husbands because of inheritance grabbing, imagine a woman sitting beside the late husband’s corpse and watching as her life’s saving is being grabbed not by strangers but practically disinherited by in laws.

Patriarchy has been institutionalized to disinherit women of all dignity, it has been used for hundreds of years and it is still being used, although subtly in the areas of patriarchy- predator- protection. It will be satisfying if one can get the answer to who is a predator and who is a protector? Who is to be protected, who seeks protection from whom? Lots of generative questions we would agree. Have you ever read or witnessed ceremonies on widowhood rites? Then it may be right to say that everywoman needs protection from women and men in this regard, because elderly women are used to perpetuate the worst form of human’s inhumanity to human when it comes to this dastard rite, it must be a topic for another day.

What are our leaders doing? In Nigeria, we have the available instruments, but what of the unwritten codes? Do you sue the clan? Fight against the in laws, in our world where MARRIAGE IS CONSIDERED AN INVIOLATE INSTITUTION! And these widows remain in appalling conditions because of their children. May be we should also take a closer look at the fact that even as beautiful as this legal instruments look like and presented by our not so working or slow institutions, the court proceedings are re-traumatizing and always filled scenarios of mad rush of emotions. Consequently, may we be moved enoug to retrospect on the double burden being borne by a single widow.

My mother became a widow on May 9th, 1976, I was barely three years old, afterward, we moved out of my father’s house on the 15th of June same year or thereabout, just to allow my mother to experience the mandatory forty days mourning of her husband, you will not believe that my next visit was when my husband accompanied me back there on the eve of our wedding, to pay his respect to the dead you will say, nobody from my father's clan visited us after the eviction, my mother single handely funded my education up till Masters level when I said I had had enough, she was a dedicated woman.

I am interested in real life stories from developing countries, and we can collaborate to plan the way forward, is it mass education or enlightenment campaign?, is it true that we are faced with hopelessnesss with regards to our men?, I do not believe, men can learn, re-learn and can unlearn too, and on a positive note, we can also educate the boys of today, a popular adage form the Western region of Nigeria says, "we must prune the Iroko tree while it is young and budding if not it will soon be demanding for sacrifice and worship, forgetting that we planted it" .

It is hard to think about a woman who is passing through this agony presently but the next widow must not be allowed to undergo that deadly challenge again, the world must act. It begins with me. It begins with you.

Comments

Thank you for writing this post. It is clearly a story that needs to be told, and I applaud your efforts to ask for input from all around the world which will make your story all the more powerful.

olutosin's picture

Thanks for reading too

Thanks so much for reading the journal...I appreciate.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Kingsley Obom-Egbulem's picture

This is critical Tosin and

This is critical Tosin and many thanks for popping it up here. Im just wondering how we csn touch the ground with the issue and drive it into the heads and hearts of our law makers in the various houses of assembly. They spend time debating non-issues when issues such as widowhood and inheritance continues to stand in the way of many women towards economic independence after the death of their husbands.

We all must accept responsibility for addressing the issue...so lets get a pool of voices and make those voices heard and its even more serious than we can imagine now because "every married woman is a potential widow and every child with a father potentially can be caught in this ugly web.

I need to add also that as always I want to point my fingers at the men and irresponsible fatherhood for this anomaly.Very African men have a will...and for some,their next of kin is neither their wife nor their children.I have seen women who but for their husband's will,they would have been on he streets today after his death.So our men must see will making as a way of life and a demonstration of their love for their family if they truly want them to avoid a life of destitution after they are gone.

Thanks again for flagging this.

Kingsley

Kingsley Obom-Egbulem

for exclusive health news from Nigeria visit:
www.nigerianhealthjournal.wordpress.com

olutosin's picture

WILL

Thanks so much for responding to this critical issue, it is so surprising that even at this age everybody are afraid to face the fact that death is an inevitable end it must surely come but our prayer is that we fulfil our destiny oon earth, thrive and live our days. What stops a man from writing his will? What stop the in laws from following a dead man's wishes?

In addition, you have rightly pointed it out that our lawmakers are doing nothing, I totally agree with you becasue these issues in question is causing untold hardshiip, sudden death and turned some children to street kids, a woman with nothing to feed her children will inadvertently turn them to the streets, while others are sent to early marriage when they are always sent out to neighbours who are remaining remnants for them, there was a day I watched Temitope Joshua on air when he was dishing out food and money to these widows who were weeping profusely as if the death of their husbands is fresh. I almost fell in love with that man.
Do you know that the most infuriating aspect of the issue is that widows would be sent home to the husbadn's village after the death of their husbadns to begin what? You will ask, a village they used ot visist once in a year before and now you want her to beging a new lif ein a strange place with little or no opportunites for survival, and when she becomes hungry, she engages in a lot of atrocities, where do we go from here?
And if only we can agree that these widows are human beings! You can now imagine, how it will be now tha telection is approaching in Nigeria, our lawmakers will give these women some five yeards of clothes and two dericas of rice, and later on hand banners of campaign to them, when will violence seize? when will corruption end, when will poverty sunside?
The in laws are another pain in the neck, you will see the former uncle tha twas coming for holiday becoming a total stranger to his brother's wife, asking for documents and car key...ah ah, able bodied men who should work for their money instead of inheriting their brother's properties?
Hmn, questions upon questions... issues upon issues.
Thanks so much sir......for supporting us, I believe that I can count on you any time any day, when it comes to violence against women....dont be tired, the road may not be far.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Kahinga Mumbi's picture

Gender violence

Thank you so much for sharing my sister. This is really happening even in our country Kenya. I witnessed a case whereby the in laws grabbed all the inheritance of a widow even before she had buried the husband. It was so painful. After the funnel the lady has to go back with her family. She was left with nothing and she had some children to take care of. My God all this happens and no justice is done. We need to come out and share this openly and enlighten our people. The woman has the right to inherit her husband. Something need to be done!!!
Kahinga Mumbi.

olutosin's picture

Commom stories

These are teh common occurences my Dear sister and it adds sto my pain to read and hear that several women are helpless in this kind of situation and the law is not on their sides, cos judgement will always take eternity to come to them, or do we say because some of the judges are men too....hope patriachy has nothing to do about it. Thanks for responding Dear sister.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

nisha menon's picture

Woman's Rights Grabbed??????????

Its really very shocking to hear that a widow's right to inherit her husband's property is grabbed away from her.Here in India similar things do happen but its very minimal. This is a very serious issue and should be taken into consideration. Thanks Olutosin for addressing this issue here. Cant these issues be put in front of the law so that widows can get some kind of a benefit? I would like to know more about the current status of this issue so pls enlighten me more on this topic Olutosin.

olutosin's picture

The Law and Widows

Tis is quite interesting my Dear taht the law which is always the last hope of the common man may not save our women where teh clan law supercedes and many women have lost hope in the law tht they always accept tehir fate adn get married to the spouses family in order to live in peace and have access to the remnants....sometimes they are afraid that they might get killed, others too will want to respect the dead why some will not want to "spoil" the relationship between their children and the late husband's extended family members, in Africa, there is what we call clan, it is respected than personal opinions...... hmn.
Thanks Nisha, hope Chennai is cool? Cape Town is Cold......Still waiting to rad stories about child sexual abuse in Chennai.
Love

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Rita Banerji's picture

India is hell for widows!

Yes, I definitely agree Olutosin that there needs to be a strongly defined law that's implemented for widows' rights to property especially in developing countries -- where such laws are weak.

But unfortunately -- the law you are talking about Widow's inheritance in India was pushed during the British colonial period. It still fails implementation. Only if women come from upper class, educated families are they in a position to push for it.

But in much of India -- rural areas and urban slums, (70% of India) -- soon as a woman's husband dies she is like food for the wolves. Not only is she disinherited, but she's subject to sexual abuse from men in the family and in the villages. Sometimes they hound her labeling her a 'witch' and kill her! Often times they want to resort to 'sati' the practise which again the british banned of burning the widow alive on her husband's pyre. This is generally done to make sure she makes no property claims!

Many of such women, who lost their property, are sexually harassed and fear being killed-- flee the village. And they land up in one of 2 cities in India. Varanasi or Vrindavan. Ironically these are India's holiest cities. There are more than 40,000 such widows right now in these cities -- begging, sometime prostituting or singing in a temple to just survive. They live in pathetic conditions. The government has done nothing!!!! Nothing!!!

We have on our campaign blog Gender Bytes -- an online photo exhibition of these two cities of widows in India. You can see it here. http://genderbytes.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/a-city-of-widow-photo-gallery/

And we will be doing more posts, stories of widows who escaped sati and came to these cities to save their lives. They are generally fed opium and just put on the dead husband's pyre to burn along with him. There are temples in India dedicated to 'sati' which the government does not dare take down. The public will be furious. Because a woman who has been killed this way in many communities in North, Central and western India is sacred!! Even women's groups in india have objected to calling these murder. Why? Because it is tradition -- and we are dishonoring cultural sentiments -- yeah right!!! You can read more about the status of widows in India here on our post 'abandoned widows' -- there are also official reports and references here. http://50millionmissing.wordpress.com/contact/the-widows/

Historically India is the widows' hell-hole!! Really!

Rita Banerji
www.ritabanerji.com

olutosin's picture

THANKS SO MUCH

This is so useful my dear sister, thank you so much for this illuminating inputs...how I wish the world is litening and acting...this is so bad, so so bad.
Thanks once again Rita.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

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