Less hate, less hurt

Be an open minded person. People will never be the same. At the end of the day, where you come from doesn’t matter, for our abilities do not come from the things we have on the outside but what you have inside. No one drafts an application choosing a certain family, race or religion to belong to. Only God knows where we belong and why we’re placed in that position, thus being judgmental and disparaging others is a waste of time. Does it change anything ? We spend more time criticising other races and religions simply because we grew up believing we are better. But have you ever asked yourself how you would feel if you were born in that religion you so much criticise, the race you so much hate or the family you always laugh at. It is not bad to “enlighten”, what’s bad is believing you are better than the other person next to you. I chose Law cos I like it, you chose Engineering cos that’s what you want, a problem comes when you tell me that my choice is bad, the whole world will never be engineers. I’m a Christian, you’re Muslim, if Allah works for you more than my Yahweh, then I don’t have control over what you choose. I can tell you my stance but I can not choose for you. So let’s stop religious wars, racism or hate and work towards making the world a better place for everyone, using what you got and spend less time castigating. Build more & cut down less…

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…OF WIDOWS, INHERITANCE AND EXPLOITATION

The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights urges states to ensure that widows’ rights to inheritance, including the right to inherit their husbands’ properties must be respected. Also, Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, commonly known as CEDAW describesdiscrimination against women as, “…any…exclusion…made on the basis of sex which has the…purpose of impairing… the …enjoyment…by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms…”The Law being in place, can we safely say states are respecting the rights of women? Are their rights safeguarded?

It has become a norm in some African states, from birth, gender imbalance is injected in and on the minds of children, the most used vacuum used to instill such beliefs being culture. While some are still trying to fight discrimination against women, some families still cling on to the belief that having a male child makes one a real man, men are taught that they are more important than the opposite sex, girls grow up believing their main reason of existence is being child-bearing machines.

One of the main issues emanating from our patriarchal societies is the position of widows, right after the death of their husbands, and in most cases, till they die. It is estimated that the numbers of widows around the world is 245 Million, while 115 Million of them live in poverty. They face discrimination across the globe and the problems they face span from inheritance disputes, sexual abuse in form of “cleansing ceremonies,’’ stigma, among others. Marie-Antoinette Sossou writes, “widowhood practices are closely tied to cultural and traditional beliefs…” (Widowhood practices in West Africa: The silent victims). Where is the equality in this practice?

 

KENYA: Sadly, while mourning the death of the husband, in some countries, women are forced to do cleansing rituals. This will automatically give them a ticket to remarry as well as being “accepted back to the community” since the death of their husbands automatically makes them “impure and dangerous to the society. [ Widowhood in the era of HIV/AIDS: a case study of Slaya District, Kenya; Ambasa-Shisanya 2007].  I wonder if men go through the same process. In Kenya, the ritual cleansing is called Chodo Okola. It is performed by a Jatiek Kwer orJakowiny. The main reason why it’s done is to separatethe widow from the deceased husband. Refusal to be cleansed may attract torture by villagers. However, in 2015, widows cleansing was outlawed in Kenya, but can we say this is enough to stop such exploiting acts? Such practices are not foreign to most African States as sex isalso used to cleanse young girls in some parts of Malawi (Salima, Nsanje and Chikwawa disctricts.)

“In Kenya, some communities essentially deny widows, orphans and people with disabilities the right to inherit land. Weak national laws, corruption and the fact that the legal practitioners themselves are often in favor of these traditions, mean that this practice is entrenched in the political and social fabric of society and benefits from widespread consensus.” [ Protecting property inheritance rights of widows, children and people with disabilities- Case Study, Kenya]. This indicates that widows are excluded from the rights of property, the property they were able to access during the lives of their husbands.Denying them the opportunity to own property entitled leaves women on the detriment side, thus, inequality. This issue is strongly hooked on social conventions and norms and little attention is given to the statutory law. In 2005, a draft proposal was made to remove the “claw back clause” which states that customary law, rather that statutory law applies to cases of adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death and other matters of personal law. Surprisingly, this was overpowered by the national referendum. More shockingly, the politicians, argued that allowing women to inherit land would paveway for women to alienate men from their lands, as women would transfer the land to their families. Was this really an issue of alienation or men-ego? Forgive my questions. In the same state, statutory law does not recognize the wife’s contribution to acquiring property. The law enforcers had a hard time trying to convince the conservative elders of the Luo that women should inherit the property. [The politics of Widowhood and Re-Marriage among the Luo of Kenya 169] Ntonzi writes, “Despite widowhood being a natural occurrence associated with grief, In many societies, widowhood is a process characterized by rituals, forced remarriages, harassment, rejection, loneliness, poverty, loss of status, fear of the future and depression. [Family population and development in Africa.]

Moreover, in Tanzania, researches show that there is need for improvement on the role of customary law in protecting widows’ rights to matrimonial properties. The Georgetown Journal of Gender and The Law Volume VII:599confirms that, “The widow has no share of the inheritance if the deceased left relatives of his clan Women are either shorn of inheritance or their shares are severely limited. Equality? Fortunately , independent organizations likeTanzania Widows Association (TAWIA) help in identifying these disadvantaged widows. Of great importance are the cases of Mariam Aswile (January 2014) as well as Mwajuwa Mwinyimku (2013) who werevictims of such oppressive systems and TAWIA came to their rescue. [REPORT BY TAWIA ON WIDOWS RIGHT OF INHERITANCE TO A PLATFORM ORGANISED BY CEDAW-GENEVA, MS ROSE SARWATT. 

Consequently, in Zimbabwe: Since customary law is a powerful cultural force used in Zimbabwe, clansmen and opportunistic relatives take advantage of the mourning widows. It is estimated that 80% of women in Zimbabwe who live in rural areas are married under customary law, thus their marriages are not formally registered. This leaves women on the detriment side as the statutes do not offer the desired protection after the death of their husband as the Customary Marriage Act does not protect inheritance rights of a spouse in an unregistered customary marriage.  In addition, Deceases Persons Family Maintenance Act and the Deceased Estates Succession Act addresses issues pertaining to inheritance rights of widows but no firm stance or implementation method is used to ensure widows get what they deserve. The paper, “ ‘You will get nothing,’ violations of Property and Inheritance Rights of Widows in Zimbabwe, the Human Rights Watch, made recommendations on how to deal with this problem. 

 

Furthermore, South Africa passed a Recognition of Customary Marriages Act in 2000 which allows marriages to be registered after the death of the husband. Customary law is also valued, as long as it does not conflict with  Bill Of Rights. The South African case, Bhev Magistrate Khayelitsha clearly stated that inheritance being given to male lineages alone was unconstitutional and violated the human rights bill which is against discrimination on the basis of sex. While everything looks close to perfect on paper, this nation still struggles with unregistered customary law marriages and registrations. South Africa’s efforts to eliminate the problem cannot be ignored but property grabbing by uncooperative relatives after the death of the husband should be addressed as well. 

 

In a nutshell, legal change alone is not enough to challenge these norms. The root causes should be addressed, and these include, “opportunism, including a lack of legal empowerment, unequal power dynamics between genders and within families, and a lack of enforcement of formal law. [ You will get nothing,’ violations of Property and Inheritance Rights of Widows in Zimbabwe]

Written by Lisa Chinyama (TheBlackInk)

~ [OF WIDOWS, INHERITANCE AND EXPLOITATION]

#women #inheritance #womenrights #exploitation

The Push? The Pull?

So I used to have another WordPress Account which I created about three years back. I used to write articles randomly but I lacked consistency. Just one day, last week, I decided to watch some documentaries. My mind analyses things a lot and I end up having quite a number of thoughts and questions in my head. Writing them down was a good idea. That pushed me into deleting my previous account so that I start a new account and maybe, do better. Put my thoughts into good use. “You had an option of just deleting the articles and starting afresh, so why deleting the entire account just to ‘start over’ ?” Yes, I had that option but I felt keeping that account would not get me anywhere as far as motivation is concerned. “The account” was not strong enough to push me or pull me into doing much activity. Doesn’t make sense right? Yeah, but well, it is what it is! i have created a new account, let’s move on.

This is a new account.

I was pushed by the idea that there are a lot of things happening in our communities, instead of voicing out, we are sitting and doing nothing. Yes, that small idea that you have, is capable of giving birth to the big change in the society you never imagined. I was pulled by the means (Laptop, wifi and capable fingers). They communicated with my soul. What if you write what you see ? What if you offer solutions? What if you just do your part.

Let’s just say this is not making sense, everything is mixed up and it lacks coherence but let’s see how this blog thing is going to take us in terms of putting our thoughts down. Maybe after 3 or more articles, I’m going to get the hang of it, letting words ooze out of my system, naturally!

Till then, read behind my confusing words and pick that which you think is essential.

Wanna know about the videos that made me delete my previous account? Read my next blogpost.