The Voice of a Tortured Widow
In the video below,33 year old Beatrice recounts the painful treatment that was meted on her when she lost her husband.Like most widows in Cameroon, she was accused for killing her husband and asked to marry her brother-in law or leave her husband`s home.
There are very few villages in Cameroon where widows are not subjected to untold hardship and torture in the name of widowhood rituals.Sleeping on the bare floor,moving bare footed, going for days without food or water,not allowed to take a bath or have a change of cloth,forced to drink water that has been used to wash the corpse,spending the night in the same room with the corpse alone,obliged to wail every 5:30am,placing the hands continuously across the shoulders,forced to dance naked or half naked,forced to clean shave hair with razor.....the list is inexhaustible.
The customary law is still in place in Cameroon making it impossible for these women to seek justice.Even when women are educated there is a tendency for them to give in to such practices due to the belief that failure to do so will lead to a curse befalling them and their children.
Efforts in sensitizing and educating these women need to be intensified.The laws governing Cameroon need to be tailored to suit international human rights precepts.As a nation we cannot continue to allow women who are the backbone of our economy,guarantors of stability both in public and private spheres to be treated with such an alarming degree of disrespect in the name of culture.
The practice is perpetrated by older widows who consider themselves as custodians of tradition.Their argument to any contrary view to this is that this was what our fore fathers use to do so we have to do the same to keep our tradition.The question I always ask myself is why those with such a view don`t move with barks of trees and leaves for covering since our fore fathers did not wear clothes.
Traditions and religions world wide have been diabolically patterned to disempower the woman.In most countries of the world,the life of a woman is a cycle of torture from birth to old age.There is always a traditional practice at every stage of life (childhood,adolescence,marriage,motherhood and old age) where is it culturally correct to endure pain.Sadly in most cases a woman is always behind such practices.This is a reality for the older as well as the younger generation of women.We all need to bring ourselves to book first and examine how we treat our fellow women.When we graduate from mutilating our daughters or torturing or daughter in-laws in the domestic sphere,we enter the public sphere as backbiters and destroyers of one another,there is no specie plagued by the canker worm of envy and strife as women are.We need a change.We as women need to be each others keeper for change to come.
This is the time to rise and say no to pain.The heat against such cultural malfeasances is increasing thanks to platforms like World Pulse.The pot of violence against women has boiled to overflowing and the attention of the cook has been drawn! Solutions are being discussed.There must be an answer