Widows

In the Western Highlands of Cameroon a husband is almost everything in the family. He is the main bread winner of the household and has the final say in family matters. In fact, the importance of any wife is measured by the husband’s position or achievements in the community. In this light, the loss of the husband causes the widow great pain and sorrow. The widow’s grief is increased by negative traditional/cultural practices upon the husband’s death.
Widowhood practices in the Western Highlands of Cameroon constitute severe human rights violations, and abuses all of which compound the emotional and psychological pain of the death of a husband. Most deaths are attributed to witchcraft and in often cases society quickly accuses the wife. The ill treatment of the widow is considered a punishment, a test of fidelity and a cleansing exercise. For a period of one year the widow is prevented from carrying out economic activities and performing her new household head functions. This affects her dependents in many ways. Furthermore, in most cultures of the area a woman is considered man’s property and is not allowed to inherit the husband’s property. Rather, she becomes a possession to be inherited by the next of kin or any male relative of the deceased husband.
In the area one out of every three women is a widow.

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