Patriarchy, Marriage and the Rights of Widows in Nigeria

  • AO Ezejiofor


Many women in several Nigerian communities dread the experience of widowhood. This is not just because of the pain arising from the loss of one’s husband, but more so, as a result of the numerous dehumanising rituals and practices associated with widowhood. The fact that these practices are interpreted as being founded on the prevailing traditions of the people poses a bigger problem. But then, the question is: “what aspects of the tradition foster the violation of widows’ rights and in what ways are these violations manifested? Employing the methods of analysis and description, this paper identifies patriarchy and marriage as the conceptual framework on which a proper of understanding widows’ experiences in Nigeria is based. It argues that the institution of patriarchy and marriage, as aspects of the Nigerian traditional society, indeed, suffice as satisfactory explanations for the practice of widowhood in Nigeria. They foster the violation of widows’ rights. Finally, as an integral part of its findings, the paper argues that the following
constitute the manifestations of the violation of widows’ rights: dethronement, defacement, forced levirate marriage; disinheritance and denial of the right of dignity and equality.

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eISSN: 1595-1413