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When your husband dies, it’s one of the most traumatic experiences to go through.  However, for people in places such as Kenya, Ghana, Nepal, and Afghanistan, traditions make mourning even more difficult.  Rather than receiving support, these women are treated less like people and more like property.  They are forced to partake in activities such as “cleansing”, meaning that they must sleep with a stranger after their husband dies to purify themselves.

In Kenya,women property rights come into question after their husbands pass away.  Rather than being able to inherit their late husband’s property, the husband’s parents are entitled to it. Because of the inferior position in society that women have, a woman’s in laws have the right to claim whatever ownership the husband had. This leaves a woman homeless, property-less, and often with limited to no access to new opportunities.  In addition, women must take part in “ritual cleansing,” as previously mentioned.  This ritual cleansing by sex is meant to get rid of the evil spirits that are often associated with death.  It is believed that if the woman resists this tradition, her children will suffer.

In Ghana, in addition to sleeping with someone after a husband’s death, women are subject to other rituals that are meant to cleans their bodies.  These involve activities such as bathing in cold water, and sitting on a mat naked and habitually crying and screaming at different times in the night. These rituals are not only humiliating, but very dangerous for one’s health.

In Nepal, once a woman is a widow, some people consider her to be a witch.  This leaves her subject to hostile interactions and violent beatings from people in her village.

In Afghanistan, there is a very large number of widows because of the war.  Like Kenya, women are often stripped of their belongings and homes, forcing them to rely on their children and begging for any sort of support.  Rather than getting support from other people, women lose their husbands, support, and hopes for a strong future.

Not only is the idea of ritual cleansing repulsive, but it is terribly dangerous in terms of the spreading of HIV/AIDS. It is exactly what everyone is constantly saying not to do: Random sex. It seems that female’s bodies take the back seat when it comes to people’s beliefs.

How You Can Help:

Get educated: For more information about this problem, visit The Shocking Indignities Women Face.  You will find more about these countries and more about widows in other countries.  Also visit Widows in Third World Nations.  Read more about these and inform other people: This is something very important that many people are not aware about.

Donate: There are many organizations that fight indecencies such as this.  You should look into the mission statements and consider supporting organizations such as Loomba Foundation, Widows’ Right International, or the Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers’ Association.

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