Land rights for widows?
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CTA. 2001. Land rights for widows?. Rural Radio Resource Pack 01/4. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57228
If a woman loses her husband, she is also at risk, in many countries, of losing the land and property on which her survival depends. Prisca Ngum, a widow in Cameroon, describes her experience, and questions the tradition that widows should have no rights to their late husband?s property.
Land rights for widows? CUE: Life for widows is rarely easy. The loss of a husband is a hard blow for anyone to bear, and in many traditions, a woman who becomes a widow loses not only her partner, but also her livelihood. Prisca Ngum, from Cameroon, lost her husband in a road accident; she herself was also nearly killed. While still recovering, she found her late husband?s relatives taking over the land that she had been farming on, and she also came under pressure to marry her brother-in-law. Prisca is typical of the many widows who have questioned the tradition that widows should have no right to the land and property that they shared with their husband. Martha Chindong asked Prisca about her experience of being a widow in Cameroon. IN: ?The death of my husband ? OUT: ? people should rather help her? DUR?N 2?53?? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Martha Chindong speaking to Prisca Ngum about the importance of land and property rights for widows. Transcript Ngum The death of my husband was as a result of an accident involving the two of us. I was so badly injured I was bed-ridden for months, and mostly cared for by my parents. And when I could walk around a bit and do a few things, my in-laws never helped me. All they did was struggling to take the property, and they did everything to take the property. So I have been surviving with the children all on our own. Chindong What type of landed property did your husband leave behind and how have they tampered with it? Ngum Well he had a portion of land, that was willed to him by his father, on which I myself, when I had just got married, I had planted things, some of which are already giving fruits now. Well they just started using it and they don?t want me to have anything to do with it. Chindong Is this a common phenomenon in your own community, or people single-handedly try to victimise widows? Ngum Well I have not taken any statistics. I know my own case seems to be peculiar. But there are a few people that do that, but some have sympathetic relatives who try to support, who try to even advise, and even if they have nothing to give you, they console you in one way or another. Chindong My question was to find out whether there is no way that the community, the traditional chief can protect the rights of a widow. Ngum Yes, sometimes you don?t know where to report your case, and everybody will always say that according to tradition you are supposed to automatically just transfer your love to a brother-in-law, which is not possible. Chindong From the experience which you have lived, do you think that it is really necessary for widows and orphans to own landed property? Ngum Of course it is very important. Like I am keeping animals and I?m doing some gardening, and all the like, planting so many things, we will eat and sell some. I even teach other people around to see the agriculture and learn something out of it. Chindong If you were given a chance to make a suggestion, say to brothers and parents in law, what would you say concerning widows rights and their husband?s property? Ngum Well I would say, if somebody is getting married to a young man, they are both young people and they are making property together, and they are growing up together, if at a certain stage, one gets gone by nature?s prescription, I don?t see why somebody should just from no-where encroach into their own lives. The woman should just continue to live the way she has been living with her husband. She will find life hard yes, but let nobody touch her own property. Because at the time they were acquiring this property nobody helped, nobody cared. Now she is alone, people should rather help her. End of tape.
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