Grant widows the freedom to remarry

Gender Rights

Widows are subject to the most human rights violations.

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African societies can be very controlling and uncaring. Their cultures expect a widow to forget about her needs and just raise children while staying loyal to the dead. Yet the marriage vows said you were marrying until death, not beyond it.

And if it’s a widowed man, he is advised to remarry immediately after burial and people would claim, “How would you expect him to survive without a wife?”

This is a masterpiece in the African set-up. Can we find a mother in-law with Naomi’s wisdom from the Bible, who will encourage her widowed daughter-in-law to remarry as long as she’s interested?

African culture should allow widows, if they’re still young and need love again, to carry on with their lives while allowing the children to relate with their paternal relatives as much as circumstances allow.

This controlling culture makes widows to make difficult decisions. If she left home to go start another life and remarry, she would separate these children from their bloodline.

The children may miss out on the security afforded to them by the clan, as well as a sense of belonging. She also cannot foretell if they will fit into the other family she marries into.

The widow also fears that if she starts seeing other men while still at her matrimonial home, she will be met with a nasty backlash; it’s shameful. She’ll also be afraid of the antagonistic family taking away her children’s inheritance and she might be less financially stable.

There’s courage and a cost for standing up for yourself as a widowed woman in Africa. The widowed is ashamed of her new marital status and receives pity from society. I know of widows who have been frowned upon for remarrying and sometimes the other family rejects them, especially if they were married in a traditional ceremony. They say that the widows belong to that family forever.

It’s just an archaic myth. Society won’t accept the bitter truth but it’s the way to go. The only prison we have as Africans is (overrated) inheritance and clan security. We should respect and uphold societal standards but not be held captive to them.

Widow’s voices and experiences must be centered in the movements and policies that impact their lives. From local campaigns to international action.

The Bible allows widows and widowers to remarry, but after having good time to mourn. For its many advantages, I encourage widows to go ahead and remarry—if they get the right man. However, maintain good relations, where possible, with the departed husband’s family.

- Ms Muli is a journalism and mass communication student at Chuka University. [email protected].