IMPACT OF DEPRIVATION OF WIDOWS INHERITANCE RIGHT BY THEIR HUSBANDS RELATIVES
The major purpose of the study was to identify the impact of deprivation of widow inheritance right by their husband’s relatives in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State. The study employed the survey research design to elicit information on the impact of deprivation of widows inheritance right. The population of the study consisted of 743 widows from the five major town in Nsukka communities namely: Obukpa, Ovoko, Nsukka, Alor-uno, and Okwutu. Questionnaire was used as instrument for data collection, and it contain 21 items grouped into four sections, according to the research questions. The research questions were formulated and analysed using mean distribution. The questionnaire was validated by our HOD being our supervisor from the Department of Home Education. The principal findings of this study were, widows are considered as strangers in their husbands’ family ie. Discrimination against widows. It causes psychological trauma on the widow in Nsukka communities of Enugu State. It was recommended that Enugu State government should change certain cultural practices that maltreat widows hitherto. They should also organize seminars, conferences, workshop and refresh courses on women education for policy makers and implementation.
1.1 Background of the Study
A widow is a woman whose husband has died. (Catherine Soanes 2001). The state of having lost ones spouse to death is termed widowhood. Problem of widows have been an important social issue in many societies in which the husband was typically the bread winner. His sudden death could plunge his family into poverty. Not only poverty but also loneliness, because a couple living together, having everything in common, buying property together, sharing things in common, along the line death just sneaked in and steal the husband, for sure that woman’s life span has been reduced. Babatunde and Owasanoye (ed) (2001) stated that in some patriarchal societies widows could maintain economic independence. A widow could carry on her late husbands business and consequently be accorded certain rights, such as the right to her husband’s wealth and property.
According to Okoye (1999) in Nsukka communities widows are often victims of human cultural practices, widows are denied the right to what rightly belong to them. Widows’ rights international (2008) noted that the treatment of widows continues to abrogate their human rights. In some part of Africa, widows are still subject to traditional practices which lead to their poverty, social ostracism and exclusion as well as loss of their homes and children. Okoye (1999) pointed out that in many cultures widows have no right to inheritance or land ownership, and even where modern legislation provides such rights ignorance of the law of widows or cultural practices impede their access to it. Most of these deprivations has great impact on the live of widows. Impact is defined as a noticeable effect or influence on something (Catherine Soanes 2001). The following are some of the impact deprivation has on widows:
1. Poverty: Across the wide spectrum of countries, religions, and ethnic groups, a woman is left destitute when her husband dies, poverty is often made worse by little or no access to other economic resources, and by illiteracy or lack of education.
2. Violence against women is one of the most widespread violations of human right, affecting widows in all background. Widows are no exception and may infact be at particularly high risk of violence.
3. The children of widows are often affected, both emotionally and economically. Widowed mothers, now supporting their families alone, are forced to withdraw children from school and to rely on their labour. Moreover, the daughters of widows may suffer multiple deprivations increasing their vulnerability to abuse.
4. Widows can become liable for the debts of a deceased spouse. This serious abuse of the human rights of widows and their children is still unrecognized even by organization that is concerned with human rights violations. Hence the study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Widowhood has serious implications for the physical and mental well being of women. Widows face a myriad of problems such as economic, social and psychological feeling particularly in the first year or so after the death of their spouse. Fasoranti and Runa (2003) noted that when a man dies his widow is now deprived of his income and the nucleus of the family is destroyed. Afigbo (1990) revealed that at the death of a woman’s husband, she would be expected to surrender all the man’s property including bank account to the relations for appropriation. Babatunde and Owasonye (2001) revealed that in some communities, the woman would be accused of master, minding the husband’s death even where it is very apparent that he died a natural or accidental death. Hence the widowhood rites would begin by making the woman to pass through “acid” test such as drinking bitter water, swearing in a shrine, or even drinking the water used to bath the husband’s corpse e.t.c. It is believed that if she survives any of a combination of these, then she is free from the guilt of causing her husband’s death. This project is necessitated by the need to conduct an indebt research work on the impact of deprivation of widow’s inheritance rights by their husband’s relatives and also to carry out some research inorder to find a proper solutions to the existing problems.
1.3 Purpose of the study
The main purpose of the study is to examine the problems of widows in Nsukka. Specifically the study will:
1. Determine how the denial of widows rights affect their well being.
2. Identify the cultural practices that relate denial of rights of widows to have access to their dead husbands properties.
3. To examine how he people in Nsukka communities deny widow’s the right to inherit their husband’s properties.
4. To proffer solutions to widows right.
1.4 Research questions
The following research questions will form the basis of this research.
1. How does the denial of widow’s right affect their well beings?
2. What are the cultural practices that relate to denial of rights of widows to have access to their dead husband’s properties?
3. How does the people of Nsukka communities deny widows the right to inherit their husband’s properties?
4. What are the ways and methods widows can fight and claim the right to their husband’s properties?
1. 5 Significance of the study
Widowhood is one of the most significance negative life events at any age of a woman. This study will reveal the negative cultural practices associated with widowhood in Nsukka communities. This study will benefit widows by eliminating some harmful cultural beliefs and practices associated with widowhood. This study will also help families to know that when a woman in being married into a particular family, she is already part and parcel of the family, is still a strong member of the family. This study will also help the widow and un-widowed women to know their rights no matter the cultural aspects, for them to stand firm when the wind blow. And this should be done through organizing of seminars, conferences, during August meeting, and women wing meeting etc. during such gathering a lot of women will be there, then the organizers will teach them what to do as their rights. By so doing the Ignorance of some widows will be cutting down and they will know their rights.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study is limited to samples drawn from only Nsukka. The samples will be drawn from both rural and urban communities of Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State. The sample will be only females both educated and uneducated, selected from Nsukka Local Government Area.