My own sister was not an exception
Apr 28, 2022
For many women in Kenya, especially rural areas, losing a husband is much more than the devastating blow that comes with losing a spouse, especially if he was the family’s sole breadwinner. This is because some Kenyan communities still practice oppressive customs that disregard widows’ property rights. Consequently, these helpless vulnerable women are often neglected, mistreated and sometimes even evicted from their matrimonial homes.
Poverty, illiteracy and ignorance of the law of inheritance consigns the widow to sometimes unspeakable suffering, and when authorities that should be on their side collude with greedy family members to defraud them, this backpedals any hope of justice for such women.
My two older sisters Peninah and Anastacia were not an exception of this suffering when they lost their husbands in a span of 8 months in 2013. Anastacia was thrown out of her matrimonial home when she was 7 months old pregnant a week after burrying her husband. Mommy had to take her in and cater for her.
Peninah's experience was even worse, she was bitten by her own mother in law and acussed of allegedly killing her husband. I was 19 years old then, i remember crying every night. My grades in school dropped tramendously. Being a fresher at the university, i knew there was something i could do to save my sisters. Anything as little as just spending time talking to them could save them. I organized a group of friends from campus, who helped me collect food and clothing donation for my sisters. This took us 3 months to raise enough donations. In April 2014, we visited Peninah, and we even met other 5 widows from the same village whom we shared the donations with.
On talking to other widows I learned that, it was a common thing in my village that widows go through. Beating by inlaws, forceful accusations for death of their husbands, Land grabbing and so on. Since then I started an initiative called Help a Widow Save a Life, where by I empower widows both economicalky and socially through engaging them in income generating activities such as goat rearing and basket weaving, I also sent educate them on their rights pertaining property inheritance. I was glad that 3 women who had been chased out of their matrimonial homes 10 years ago were able to go back to their homes after knowing they had a right to what their husbands left for them.
As women, no matter our age and state, I believe there is something little we can do for these vulnerable women. We are their voice. I am the voice to the widows in my village, i encourage you all to be voices to the voiceless. They are many out there.