Widows' Plight: Beatings, Sex With Strangers

Hubby's death just the start of pain
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2010 4:40 AM CDT
Afghan widows queue up to receive their monthly ration from CARE, an international aid group in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 15, 2010. According to CARE there are at least 10, 000 war widows in Kabul.   (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
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(Newser) – Newly widowed women in Kenya must have unprotected sex with a stranger to "purify" themselves, and in Bangladesh their only hope is to turn to their sons for economic support—if they're lucky enough to have any. In many parts of the world, the pain of losing a husband is only the beginning of a widow's plight. A new international widows' rights movement hopes to draw attention to problems like these:

  • Nepal: Widows are suspected of being witches with "dark powers," and thus shunned or even beaten by neighbors.
  • Afghanistan: In a country with some 2 million war widows, the in-laws kick widows out of the family home, leaving them to beg to provide for themselves and their children.
  • Ghana: Widows are forced to undergo purifying rituals that "range from bathing in cold water, sitting naked on reed mats, ritual scarring, head shaving, and even having sex with a designated individual. That man can be a brother-in-law or even the first stranger met on the road.”
For more countries where widows face persecution and poverty, see the Daily Beast.

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