An interest organisation, Aku Diewa Lawyers’ Forum, ADLAF, made up of practising lawyers in Aku Community in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State, has frowned at some widowhood practices in Nigeria, especially the South Eastern States, saying that widows should have equitable share of their husband’s inheritance.
The Forum working in conjunction with Hon. Princess Stella Ngwu representing Igbo-Etiti/Uzo-Uwani Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Abuja, made their views known in a paper presented by the organisation at the 2015 Women August Meeting of Aku Community.
In the paper titled, ‘Widowhood Rights, Challenges and Remedies Under the Law,’ ADLAF pointed out such negative widowhood practices to include shaving of a widow’s head, eyebrow and pubic hair when her husband dies; forcing a widow to sit on a cold bare floor during mourning period; forcing a widow to wear mourning clothes for specific periods up to a year in white or black apparel; secluded from public view with husband’s corpse for a period of time before burial; grabbing or chasing her off her husband’s property for not having a male; forcing a widow to drink water used in washing the late husband’s body where it is suspected that she killed her husband and worst of them all among other detestable things done to widows, is to force a widow to sleep with a fetish high priest to separate the spirit of the dead husband from the wife.
The group lamented that “in Igbo society, it is an abomination for a woman to die when in the process of widowhood rites, yet many are said to be practically starved and deprived of sleep or rest.”
Appalled by those obnoxious and negative practices against widows, ADLAF admonished widows to seek legal measures as stipulated by Article 20 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human Right and the Right of Women in Africa, to enforce their rights.
According to the Article 20 of the African Charter on Human Right, “a widow shall have the rights to an equitable share in the inheritance of the property of her husband. A widow shall have the right to continue to live in the matrimonial house. In case of remarriage, she shall retain her right if the house belongs to her or she inherited it.”
Apart from the Charter, ADLAF in the paper cited the Holy Scripture, Bible Numbers 27 v 1-9, that empowered women to have inheritance of father or husband.
“Aku Diewa Lawyers’ Forum, ADLAF in strong terms, enjoins the women, especially of Igbo-Etiti LGA to be bold in the crusade against discriminatory practices against women especially the widows in our area,” the organisation admonishes, calling on women to stand up for their rightful position in the society.

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