The Federation of International Women Lawyers (FIDA), has decried the recurrent neglect of widows in the Nigerian society, saying the country has over eight million grossly disadvantaged and suffering numbers of these categories of people.
To reverse the trend, FIDA called for holistic implementation of the Gender Based-Violence Prohibition Laws and other relevant statutes that protect the rights of women being the best way to rescue them from poverty and all forms of discriminations.
FIDA’s Chairperson in Ekiti State, Barrister Oyinade Olatunbosun, said this in Ado Ekiti, on Saturday, at a press conference commemorating the International Day of Widows, where the group distributed money to help some widows.
The beneficiaries were one Mrs Esther Kolawole, who is suffering from fibroid for three years, Mrs Gladys Olonisakin, whose husband was killed by land grabbers, Mrs Olayemi Olanike and Mrs Ramatu Mathew.
Addressing newsmen on FIDA’s giant strides, Olatunbosun appealed to stakeholders to come together to fashion ways through which widows can be frantically assisted financially to earn a living.
She harped on the need for the government to implement laws that will prevent stripping of widows of their rights, maintaining that “widows’ rights are human rights”.
The FIDA boss said: “There are approximately 258m widows globally,out of which Nigeria has a total of 15m with 8m being grossly neglected. The figures keep increasing because of neglect and governments not doing enough to protect their rights.
“The GBV provides for the protection of the rights of widows and women, which includes prevention of harmful practices for women whose husbands died . We have sufficient laws on ground, what we need now is implementation.
“It is sad to tell you that we have got to some towns where they said widows must suffer after their husbands had died to protect and preserve tradition. All these practices are discriminatory and we are saying no to them”, she stated.
Olatunbosun called on the government at all strata to put in place structures that will engender widow-friendly policies, which will be promulgated and implemented for their social protection.
“The traditional and religious leaders must look after the welfare of widows in their domains and not bug them down with unnecessary traditional or religious rites that will further dehumanize them after the death of their spouses.
“We say no more to practices of archaic , cultural, depressive and discriminatory practices against widows. In several developing countries, widows are treated as outcasts thereby making life difficult for them.
“Some societies still follow irrational practices like widows drinking the water used in washing the bodies of their late husbands, who often had been embalmed with toxic chemicals, so barbaric and discriminatory since this is never the position when the woman dies.
“These widows become vulnerable to both physical and mental violence and their kids are exposed to abuses and they even sometimes miss out on formal education”, the FIDA boss said.