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Review of the obnoxious widowhood practices in Nigeria: Anambra State in perspective

Patricia Chinwe Iloka


Bereavement of a breadwinner of the family is a traumatic experience that last for a life-time for every member of the family. The effects of this irreparable loss are somewhat insurmountable as the family may never be able to be on their feet again. This great loss is compounded by the obnoxious cultural practices meted on the mother of the home or the wife of the deceased popularly known as the widow. Over the years it has been found that cultural practices against widow have several negative effects on them and the family, the ultimate of it is the early death of the widow leaving the children as orphans and escalating poverty and moral ills in the society. Recent developments and most especially in Nigeria’s constitution indicated some improvement but much needs to be done to arrest the ugly practices. There is need to highlight the contemporary situation regarding the obnoxious cultural practices in Nigeria and the need for more reforms on the practices. More often than not, a widow is accused of being responsible for the death of her husband, especially when the man dies at a young age. Therefore, widows are coerced into going through degrading and dehumanising rituals all in an effort to prove her innocence. These practices are fundamental violations of women’s human rights and the Nigerian law. The widow is usually subjected into terrible or painful experience which is referred to as trial by ordeal.