This is an annual, global day of action to raise awareness about the cultural discrimination of widows. The first officially recognized International Widows’ Day on June 23, 2011 was marked with a conference held in the United Nations headquarters in New York.
I wrote a post about this day last year http://goo.gl/mz7Uy. Its hard to imagine and, I was sickened, when I read the list of atrocities widows around the globe may endure:
Some widows, simply because they are widows…
- have been victims of mental, physical and sexual abuse including rape.
- have been subjected to customary ‘cleansing’ rituals involving having sex with a member of the deceased husband’s family or a stranger (hugely increasing the chance of contracting HIV).
- have been looked upon with hatred and suspicion and are considered to be evil and to have brought bad luck to their in-laws family.
- have been accused of being involved in witchcraft and are therefore systematically tortured and attacked (to the point of murder) or forced to commit degrading acts such as eating human waste or even human flesh.
- have not been given proper burials and have been simply disposed of.
- have been accused of murdering their husbands or causing their death by insufficient care (when in fact the husband has died from HIV related illness or some other cause).
- have been robbed of their inheritance and/or land and personal belongings by their deceased husband’s family.
- have had their children taken away from them by extended family.
- have had their hair cut off, jewellery removed and have been forced to wear white for the rest of their lives.
- have been turned down by their own families for a place to live, due to customary beliefs about them bringing bad luck.
- have resorted to prostitution in order to feed their children.
- have ended up living in severe poverty and are more likely to suffer from malnutrition, starvation, poor health, disease and have higher mortality rates.
- have either been not allowed to remarry, or forced to remarry, often into abusive households.
- have been asked to leave important ceremonies such as the marriage of their own children.
- have been left destitute and unable to afford to send their children to school.
- have had no choice but to send their children out to work or beg, leaving them vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse and exploitation.
- have been unable to find employment due to a lack of education and social rejection.
- have thought about committing suicide to end their hardship.
Learn more http://theloombafoundation.org/.