16 Days Campaign 2020 - Day 11
Widows and Property
Some traditional cultures do not easily concede recognition of a widow’s human rights. In practice, especially in some rural areas, it is widely assumed that only men should own or inherit land and that widowhood terminates a woman’s social legitimacy.
Shortly after Michelle, 57, was widowed in 2012, her in-laws took over the fields she had tilled for decades. They stole fruit from the trees in her kitchen garden and sold the harvest, leaving her without any livelihood. Then they intimidated and insulted her and attempted to chase her away.
Michelle’s neighbours advised her that the Legal Resources Foundation (LRF) could help her to protect her inheritance. The LRF took the matter to court where Michelle obtained restraining orders against her in-laws, so she was able to go back to tilling her fields. Her in-laws continue to threaten her, so Michelle still worries about the future: “I am fearful and my heart is unsettled.”