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How Women Suffer After The Death Of Their Husband

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Accounts of the humiliations, insults and indignations suffered by widows worldwide would make anyone cringe.

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Gulika, a widow in Asia, experienced helplessness after the people in her village turned their backs on her after her husband’s death.

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A woman in Nigeria was harassed by her brother-in-law asking for documents of her house before her husband’s body even left for the funeral home—and then insisted she had to leave.

Another Nigerian woman’s husband lay in a hospital bed when her sister-in-law demanded a huge amount of money from their bank account. When the wife refused, her in-law swore she would regret it.

“Three days after, my husband died, his family descended on me, took his cars away and emptied the house,” the widow shared.

The death of a husband is complicated, but some of the cultures that follow the husband's death in the world have been endangering the life of a woman whose husband died - especially when it comes to food, according to Emily Thomas.

In some cultures, women are prevented from eating at the right times, banning women from eating nutritious foods, and forcing them to adopt certain risky eating habits.

In Ghana, a poor widow is the most vulnerable. While the country is trying to end the disrespect and risky culture that women are forced to experienced during their husband's mourning, there are still widows who are deprived of nutritious food .

There is a tradition that compels a widow to drink soup made with parts of her deceased husband's body.

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In some parts of Ghana, a widow is often forced to wear her hair or a scarf

"The hair or the finger nails of a deceased husband , dead body bath water, is given to the woman to drink," said Fati Abdulai, a Director of a Rights Group for Orphans and Widows in northern Ghana.

Some widows can reject the abuse or disregard the tradition - but some in particular are not able to do so .

And as in some cultures, the husband's property goes back to his relatives when he dies, so many women lose properties and funds - unless they agree to marry one of the deceased relatives, the bbc hausa reported.

It is estimated that around 285 million widowed women live in the world, and one in 10 are in extreme poverty.

In many countries, a woman who loses her husband is treated with less honor and less dignity.

Widows Are at the Bottom of the Pile

Of the estimated 285 million widows in the developing world, more than 115 million live in abject poverty

. Eighty six million have suffered physical abuse, according to Cherie Blair, president of the UK-based Loomba Foundation, established in 1997 to empower widows and educate their children. In addition, 1.5 million children whose mothers have been widowed will die before they turn 5 years old. Considering the average widow has three children and six other family members, the wider impact affects more than a billion people, about one-seventh of the world’s population. View pictures in App save up to 80% data. As president of the Loomba Foundation, Cherie Blair is on a mission to empower widows and educate their children.

“Their plight is one of the most important, yet under-reported, human-rights issues facing the world today,” says Blair. “Much has been made, and rightly so, of gender inequality, but widows have truly been at the bottom of the pile—visible and invisible—for too long. For many women, becoming a widow does not just mean the heartache of losing a husband, but often losing everything else as well

According to aacc-ceta.org, most of the common challenges faced by widows in Africa include: dehumanizing widowhood rites such as being forced to drink the water that has washed her husband’s dead body, and wife inheritance, torture by the late husband’s family and community including confiscation of their property, denial of inheritance and land rights, poverty, shock, social discrimination, loneliness and depression, among others. 

Additionally, experiences of widows in refugee camps or IDPs are more acute, as they live in abject poverty and discrimination, especially where there are no interventions to support or create safe spaces for them, besides their challenge of decision-making in matters of resettlement. Children of poor widows, whether refugees or not, are usually unable to continue with education due to financial constraints, leaving them more vulnerable to forced labour and human trafficking.

"Ban on fish , meat and egg."

In some parts of the world, the problem of maltreatment to widows is not limited to the poor ones, especially in areas where people have wealth.

According to Chitrita Banger Gee, a historian who writes books, in the Hindu tribe of West Bengal, in recent years forcing widows to explain how they killed their husbands is an order of the day .

"They are forbidden to eat fish, meat, eggs, onions and garlic - they live in such a culture before gradually disappear," Gee said.

"What they are trying to do is prevent them from eating nutritious foods - as if the death was the woman's fault .

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Chitrita's Banger Gee with her mother Anita Banerjee and grandmother Prabhabati Mukerjee

This was a situation Gee had experienced when she was younger, when her grandmother's husband died.

“For me it was a new change - she changed her clothes from coloured to white, and there was no use of chains or earrings. She stopped eating with family members and did not eat anything, because there was a forbidden food for her. "

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"But when she cooks, some of her cookings are delicious."

As a food expert, Banger Gee has seen her grandmother change her dietary restrictions to flavors.

"She doesn't eat onions, so she uses a processed one or something that will give her that kind of cooking," Gee said.

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A study carried out in China, Europe and the United States found that among people of higher ages, the tendency that ruin one's body is due to malnutrition, which causes weight loss.

Elisabeth Vesnaver, a nutrition researcher, studied extensively in the diet of widows in Canada in the 70's.

"I have two grandparents and each has a unique situation," Vesnaver said.

"One of them, a year after her husband's death, she died within two years and no disease was associated with her death, the only cause of her death was a malnutrition .

Vesnaver found that widows faces the challenge of dying in their first two years after the death of their husband. Mortality is increasing, and she is convinced that nutrition plays a role in causing the deaths, as reported by the bbc hausa.

"Research has also shown that diet and eating habits affect the quality of life," Vesnaver said.

She added that it was not just only a phenomenon of starvation.

"One of the most surprising things about women is that everyone has a situation that they go through or understand, in terms of life and the environment and their impact."

One such woman told investigators that when her husband died, she had no reason to move or get out of bed. She can remain in the bed from 11 am to 3 pm, and but food does not matters.

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Lisa Kolb, a writer and former staff living in Washington DC, offers some advice. She lost her husband Erik in an accident, 19 months after their marriage. They are 34 years each at the time.

"With your husband, you have to cook together, eat together, go to meetings and vacations - if you miss this and go into isolation, then you are alone at the dining room and there is no husband you are accustomed to." according to her.

'' Even though eating is important, staying with people to eat is more enjoyable. But only those who go into this situation will understand, ” she said.

The disadvantages that widows and divorcees suffer also affect their families. Research in Mali shows that the children of widowed mothers have worse health and are less likely to be enrolled in school. In Zambia, in areas where customary rights do not support land inheritance for widows, married couples make fewer productive investments in their land. Where widows and divorcees suffer, society at large suffers as well.  

Source: opera.com
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