Becoming a widow in parts of sub-Saharan Africa can invite abuse, ranging from being disinherited and robbed of their property to rape.
In some communities, widows are forced to clean their husband's corpse and then drink the dirty water. “If you accept these inhumane and degrading rituals, you run the risk of disease. If you don't, you are condemned for not saying goodbye to your husband, and are abused and ostracized,” said Karen Brewer of Widows Rights International (WRI), marking International Widows' Day.
The abuse can also help spread viruses like Ebola—through dangerous cleansing rituals—and HIV, when widows forced out of their homes are raped or resort to prostitution to survive.
Thomson Reuters Foundation