In some communities in Congo, a widow loses her rights and becomes vulnerable after the death of her husband.
Property seizure, deprivation of inheritance and humiliation by the man’s family are just a few of the problems many widows and orphans face.
In Diosso, in the Kouilou region, 25 kilometres from Pointe Noire, women are subjected to widowhood rites for between 2 to 3 years,
If you had seen me cry, it was because I felt remorse about everything I had gone through, especially with the children abandoned on me, that was what made me cry. There was no support for the children.
The inhumane traditional practices leave psychological imprints on victims.
“If you had seen me cry, it was because I felt remorse about everything I had gone through, especially with the children abandoned on me, that was what made me cry. There was no support for the children, but fortunately I had a small salary from the officials of Fifty Miles. I wish it would change, the widow has the right to stay at home with her children”, Marie Louise Sathoud told Africanews correspondent, Hervé Kiminou Missou.
In Congo, the Family Code stipulates that in the event of death ,50 percent of a deceased’s properties be given to his children, 30 percent to his widow and 20 to his parents. But these provisions are regularly violated by families.
To help widows and orphans, a gender-based think tank is undertaking an awareness campaign to educate widows on how to overcome the abuse they suffer.
‘‘So by coming here, we remind them that the laws that apply in urban areas also apply in rural areas. We also reassure mothers about their fears. We tell them that the courts are there and they should come to court”, said Chair of the gender-based think tank, Jessica Mamoni Goma.
But, the law only protects and recognizes married women in civil status, even though their percentage is very low.
NGOs, want as many people as possible enlightened about the law and its sanctions by involving traditional chiefs and religious denominations to increase awareness among Congolese.