Widows Voices Must Be Heard

Evelyn Fonkem
Posted March 5, 2018 from Cameroon

Let's Build Bridges for Widows and not Walls

I saw them,they were women they were not men.They spearheaded the act on her.They stripped her naked,tortured her and shaved her hair with a rusted,unsterilized blade.They were her friends but they knocked her down.

I saw them,they were women,they were not men.They accused her of killing her late husband and then they forced her to drink concoctions prepared with leaves,hairs and fingers nails of her late husband.They were her sisters but they pressed her down.

I saw them,they were women,they were not men.They made her to sleep in the same room with the corpse for 3 or more days and she ate only on leafs.She was not allowed to change clothes for a long period of time.She was isolated by everyone and could find solace only from her children.They were her mothers but they pushed her down.

I saw them,they were women,they were not men.They stripped her naked before the full glare of the public.Every one isolated her,they chanted mockery songs in their dialect and called her a witch.She had no one to comfort her.She gazed at a distance and saw her children wailing uncontrollably.She thought of their future.It was so bleak.They were from the same community but they crushed her down.

I saw them,they were women,they were not men.They forced her out of the community to have sexual Intercourse with an unknown man an the end of the rite,in order to shelve herself from the bad omen of the widowhoodrites.

I saw them,they were women,they were not men.They refused to change this obnoxious practice.They said they went through it and all other widows must pass through it.They argued that it's their culture that must be passed from generation to generation.

She could not stand the humiliation, discrimination and violation.She had lost her social status,this dehumanizing act has reduced her to ruins.She could still hear them whispering that she killed him.She thought of committing suicide but find solace in her children.

During this 2018 IWD, let us join our voices and talk in favor of widows.Widowhoodrites is a gender based violence that is perpetrated by women on women.It can lead to HIV and AIDS,it de humanize the survivor,leaves communities in abject poverty and reduces the self esteem of the survivor.Can the eradication of Widohoodrites create  waves of change in our communities?

Comments 25

Log in or register to post comments
  • Olutosin
    Mar 05
    Mar 05

    Sad sad....my mother was accused of killing my father more than 40 years ago.

    My half brother told.me when I was in the university that it was my mother that killed our father. He said that he wonder why my mother didn't kill me and my sisters.

    They did all they could to turn me against my mother. I never believed them, they called us daughters of a witch.

    It was a horrible experience for my mother and us. We were not allowed to visot our father's house or grave site for more than 27years.

    Yesterday I read the account of a woman who passed through widowhood rites in Eastern Nigeria this year, she posted her pictures in our secret group. It was women that pressed her down, removed all her dresses, shaved all hair on her body, burnt every single thing that she touched.

    Imagine her humiliation, women are used to perpetuate wicked act on their fellow women, just to entrench patriarchy.

    Awareness, education and love for every woman will help a long way to transform this evil act.

    Thanks so much for sharing this sad story.

    It brought horrible events back to my mind now.

  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 05
    Mar 05

    It' so sad to know your mother went through this.Millions of women are going through this around the world.We can stop this by speaking against this.Thank you sister

  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 05
    Mar 05

    Dear Olutosin.I am.sorry this write up has re-kindle such sad memories in your mind.It's purpose is to let the whole world to know what widows go through.Its such a barbaric act.

  • Sophie Ngassa
    Mar 05
    Mar 05

    My dear sister Evelyn, Thanks for sharing this wonderful but sad poem. I have seen this kind of evil practice happen in my community. And of courese led by women, the most painful part of it.

    Thanks for adding your voice to end gender based voilence. Happy Women's Day.

  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 05
    Mar 05

    Thanks Aunty Sophie for the encouragement.

  • jlanghus
    Mar 06
    Mar 06

    Hi Evelyn. Thanks for sharing your sad story with us. I totally agree that a lot of times it's women that perpetuate unhealthy patterns and rituals, such as this heinous one that you are writing about. Please be aware that you will want to select the left arrow/"reply to this" icon underneath the comments so that the commentator will receive an automated email in their inbox notifying them of your reply:-)

  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 06
    Mar 06

    Thanks Jill.It's really sad to see women go through this

  • jlanghus
    Mar 07
    Mar 07

    You're welcome:) I totally agree...

  • Tumanjong Miranda
    Mar 06
    Mar 06

    How saddening it is to see women treat fellow women in an inhuman way. this brings me to tears and I think it's high time the silence is broken... it's high time our cultures be revised. We need to raise voices for thew widows, you may be a victim of such torments tomorrow.
    Thank you Evelyn, for sharing this great poem.

  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 06
    Mar 06

    Thanks Miranda for your kind words of encouragement

  • Tamarack Verrall
    Mar 07
    Mar 07

    Dear Evelyn,
    Thank you so much for writing about this violence and extreme humiliation of women who no longer have husbands, including details of entrenched burial rites. It is an even deeper level of sadness that women will betray other women, for the sake of being acceptable to men in control. It is these deep rooted and vile traditions that need to be stopped, and the use of the word "witch" as evil, untrustworthy, lacking the right to participation in community, this must be stopped. It was not really that long ago that burnings of women as witches were common in Europe, and reached the USA as well. The hatred for, the distain for old women without husbands is so cruel. Women should be honoured for all we have done, not cast off so utterly cruelly. I hope that all of the World Pulse sisters raising our voices on this will end the cruelty forever.

  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    Thanks so much Tamarack for these words of comforts.I believe that together we fight against this barbaric act that is ravaging the IIves of women.Thanks dear sister

  • Veronica Ngum Ndi
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    Hello Evelyn
    You are a champion Silence Breaker.Congratulations for all the wonderful works you are doing to reach the silent minority in your community

    In Sisterhood
    Veronica

  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    Thanks Veronica for your support.You have always been there to support me do this work and create sustainable impacts.Thanks sister

  • Wendy Stebbins
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    Yay, Evelyn. You are amazing.

  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 09
    Mar 09

    Thanks Wendy

  • Hello, Evelyn,

    How traumatizing it is for a widow to be undergoing all those you enumerated above! This is my first time to know about this.

    Is this some kind of initiation to widowhood? Why does a widow who is grieving the loss of her husband need tp suffer another degree of psychological and physical pain? Widows need comfort andd assistance, not humiliation and isolation. I also do not understand why do women need to inflict this to another woman? Please write more about this.

    I am so sorry that this is a cultural practice in your country. Thank you for breaking your silence. This inhumane act needs to cease.

  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    Hello Karen widowhoodrites are traditional practices upon the husband's death which increases the widows sorrow and pain.These rites are practiced in many countries in Africa and it varies from country to country.It is a form of gender based violence that is perpetrated on women by women.These women argue that it's their culture and they must passed it on.The victim experiences emotional,psychological and physical abuse.In some situations,she is accused of killing g her husband and thus banished from the community with her children.At times,her in laws will seize all her husband,s properties and she will be left with nothing

  • Thank you for breaking the silence of the widows' plight in Africa. I wonder what happens when it is the wife who dies first. Do they do the same to the husband? Or they just do this to the women?

    This is injustice.

  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 10
    Mar 10

    Hi Karen thanks so much for reading. When it is the woman who dies,he does not go through these rites and in some cultutes,he is expected to marry as soon as possible.

  • MaNnenna
    Mar 14
    Mar 14

    It is sad to hear the roles women play to oppress their fellow women due to ignorance . We must stand against this immorality by educating women the danger of their actions. we must spread awareness and encourage women to love themselves and most importantly love other women.

  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 15
    Mar 15

    Thanks Mannena for reading.It's really pathetic that women are inflicting violence on other women because of the barbaric culture

  • afayi
    Mar 22
    Mar 22

    This is so sad. This is dehumanizing. The trauma these women go through is unthinkable. This hurts so much and it has to be stopped. It is so sad we are still seeing things like this in 2018.

  • Ndongmanji Eunice
    Apr 12
    Apr 12

    So pathetic. Many women have suffered various forms of widowhood rites. Worse, women are perpetrators of this act. Fellow women become a bridge today and not a wall.
    Good write up Bisona.

    kind regards
    Eunice

  • AGNES TUMASANG
    Jun 19
    Jun 19

    Thank you