REPORT #315 June 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Recently, in Tanzania at least 500 widows were stoned to death. Others burned to death as witches. In parts of our fellow Commonwealth country Nigeria, widows are not allowed to wash for a year after a husband's death. In many parts of Africa and Asia, Widows face a social death. They do not inherit! They are hounded from their homes, robbed of their household cooking and personal possessions and forced into destitution, usually by the dead husbands relatives.

In Bangladesh, a fairly advance Commonwealth country, only 25% of the widows successfully get a small part of a husband's inheritence. In some countries, widows are inherited by brothers of the dead husband. Widow often have no rights, because they are seen as possessions, as chattels, like a camel, mule, or dog.

In Belize, the biggest ethnic group with a widow problem are the traditional Maya. The females about 10,000 of them in Belize may have legal rights, but in actuality have none in the social customs of this segment of Belizean society. Many widows cannot find the money that townie lawyers want, to clear up property titles, they are financially disenfranchised by the system of courts. Often they have no paperwork at all. Nor do they have any earning capacity in a trade with which to pay.

Being a widow is hell in most parts of the world today. Belize is only mid-range in this sort of study.

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