Widow

Widow

Overview
A widow is a woman whose spouse has died, while a widower is a man whose spouse has died. The state of having lost one's spouse to death is termed widowhood or occasionally viduity. The adjective form is widowed. The treatment of widows around the world varies, but unequal benefits and treatment generally received by widows versus widowers globally has spurred an interest in the issue by human rights activists.



In societies in which the husband was typically the sole provider, his death could plunge his family into poverty.
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A widow is a woman whose spouse has died, while a widower is a man whose spouse has died. The state of having lost one's spouse to death is termed widowhood or occasionally viduity. The adjective form is widowed. The treatment of widows around the world varies, but unequal benefits and treatment generally received by widows versus widowers globally has spurred an interest in the issue by human rights activists.

Economic position




In societies in which the husband was typically the sole provider, his death could plunge his family into poverty. This problem can be aggravated by the general longer life spans of women, and that men in many societies traditionally marry women younger than themselves. However, even in some patriarchal societies, widows could maintain economic independence. A widow could carry on her late husband's business and consequently be accorded certain rights, such as the right to enter guilds. More recently, widows of elected officials have been among the first women elected to office in many countries (such as Corazon Aquino
Corazon Aquino
Maria Corazon Sumulong Cojuangco-Aquino was the 11th President of the Philippines and the first woman to hold that office in Philippine history. She is best remembered for leading the 1986 People Power Revolution, which toppled Ferdinand Marcos and restored democracy in the Philippines...

).

In 1800s Britain, widows had more opportunity for social mobility than in many other societies throughout history. Also, along with the ability to ascend socio-economically, women who were “presumably celibate” were much more able (and likely) to challenge conventional sexual behavior than married women in their society.

In most of Europe, including Russia, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy, and Spain, widows wear black for the rest of their lives to signify their mourning. While this mourning ritual remains in practice today, some immigrants of these cultures to the United States as recently as the 1970s have loosened this strict standard of dress to only two years of black garments. However, Orthodox immigrants may wear life-long black in the U.S. to signify their widow status and devotion to their deceased husband.

In other cultures, however, widowhood is much stricter and unarguably more demeaning to women's rights. Often, women are required to remarry within the family of their late husband after a period of mourning. With the rise of HIV/AIDS levels of infection across the globe, rituals to which women are subjected in order to be “cleansed” or accepted into her new husband's home make her susceptible to the psychological adversities that may be involved as well as impeding health risks.

It is often necessary for women to comply with the social customs of her area because her fiscal stature is dependent on it, but this custom is also often abused by others as a way to keep money within the patriarchal family. It is also uncommon for widows to challenge their treatment because they are often “unaware of their rights under the modern law…because of their low status, and lack of education or legal representation.”

In the U.S., as of 2004, women who are “widowed at younger ages are at greatest risk for economic hardship.” Similarly, married women who are in a financially unstable household are more likely to become widows “because of the strong relationship between mortality [of the male head] and wealth [of the household].” In underdeveloped and developing areas of the world, conditions for widows are much more severe still. However, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (“now ratified by 135 countries”), while slow, is working on proposals which will make certain types of discrimination and treatment of widows (such as violence and withholding property rights) illegal in the countries that have joined CEDAW.

Widows in Indian culture


In India, there is often an elaborate ceremony during the funeral of a widow's husband, including smashing the bangles, removing the bindi
Bindi (decoration)
A bindi is a forehead decoration worn in South Asia . and Southeast Asia...

 as well as any colorful attire, and requiring the woman to wear white clothes, the color of mourning. Earlier it was compulsory to wear all white after the husband was dead, and even a tradition known as sati
Sati (practice)
For other uses, see Sati .Satī was a religious funeral practice among some Indian communities in which a recently widowed woman either voluntarily or by use of force and coercion would have immolated herself on her husband’s funeral pyre...

 was sometimes practiced, where the newly widowed woman would throw her body onto her husband's burning funeral pyre.

However, in modern-day culture the norms for clothing have gradually given way to colored clothing, and sati practice has been banned in India for more than a century. The ban began under British rule and is much owed to the persistence of social reformer Ram Mohan Roy
Ram Mohan Roy
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was an Indian religious, social, and educational reformer who challenged traditional Hindu culture and indicated the lines of progress for Indian society under British rule. He is sometimes called the father of modern India...

, who asserted that sati was a means of showing status rather than a universal ritual in India, and that “there are other ways of doing it than by burning wives.”

See also


  • Bereavement
  • Black widow, is a term for female serial killer
    Serial killer
    A serial killer, as typically defined, is an individual who has murdered three or more people over a period of more than a month, with down time between the murders, and whose motivation for killing is usually based on psychological gratification...

    s who murder a succession of husbands or boyfriends
  • Estate planning
    Estate planning
    Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses...

  • Marriage
    Marriage
    Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

  • Orphan
    Orphan
    An orphan is a child permanently bereaved of or abandoned by his or her parents. In common usage, only a child who has lost both parents is called an orphan...

  • Remarriage
    Remarriage
    Remarriage is a marriage that takes place after a previous marital union has ended, as through divorce or widowhood.Some individuals are more likely to remarry than others; the likelihood can differ based on previous relationship status , level of interest in establishing a new romantic...



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