Friday, July 1, 2011


23 June 2011

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle –
Mon, 27 Jun 2011

About four hundred widows from the Northern, Volta, Upper East and Upper West regions, last Thursday and Friday, converged at Bolgatanga to observe this year's International Widows Day. It was under the theme; 'We can end violence against widows through the recognition of widows' rights.'

The United Nations, this year, changed the International Widows' Day from the 13th of June to 23rd of June. Thus the commemoration of the day will now fall on 23rd June every year.

In the Upper East Region, Widows and Orphans Movement, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), in collaboration with Action Aid Ghana and the Savannah Women Empowerment Group, Ghana, organised the day.

The National Director of Widows and Orphans Movement (WOM), Madam Betty Ayagiba, said according to the United Nations, 245 million widowed women suffer from targeted murder, rape, prostitution, forced-marriage, property theft, eviction, social isolation, and physical and psychological abuse.

She said many widows throughout the world are malnourished, exposed to diseases, and subject to slavery, while over 500 million widows' children face child marriage, illiteracy, loss of schooling, forced labour, human trafficking, malnutrition, homelessness and rape. One million and five hundred thousand of these children die before their fifth birthdays.

Madam Ayagiba regretted that in spite of her organisation's efforts at exposing and reducing all forms of abuses against widows, some individuals and groups were thwarting their efforts with what she described as 'the denial spirit.' She explained that some people were accusing her organisation of exaggerating abuses against widows.

The Director cited an instance, where a man brought a visitor to her office three years ago. After introductions, the visitor saw pictures of some abuses on the wall and asked whether those things still existed, but the man told the visitor that those he saw in the pictures were exaggerations.

She said in less than two weeks after visiting her office, the man who claimed the pictures were exaggerations had an accident and died. At his funeral, his widowed wife was stripped naked as custom demands.

Madam Ayagiba said while her outfit, in collaboration with its partners such as Action Aid Ghana, Amnesty International, Voluntary Service Overseas, Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and some individuals, try to defend the sufferings of widows legally, socially and economically, some unscrupulous individuals and NGOs were also extorting money from people in the name of supporting widows.

She warned such people to desist from the practice, because it could bring curses and even death upon them.

The Director appealed to the government to support WOM and other genuine groups and individuals who are supporting their cause to liberate widows.

Three chiefs, Sapaat-Naab Bilea Namaal-Teng David Dok Dong of Kongo, Naba Koom Kimsi Bunga Moses Ayamzua of Winkogo, and Naba Salifu Atamale Lemyarum of Bongo, were awarded with certificates for defending and supporting widows.

The deputy Upper East Regional Minister, Mrs. Lucy Awuni, noted that though the 1992 Constitution of Ghana guarantees the protection of the fundamental human rights and freedoms of all natural and legal persons in the country, there was violence against women and girls everywhere, the rights of widows are violated, domestic house helps are abused, and children also abused and trafficked.

She described these violations as global problems which are condoned under some cultural practices and religious beliefs.

While urging the United Nations and governments to prioritise the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by women, Mrs. Awuni also entreated women to develop a common and united front to fight gender-based violence in their communities.

Traditional authorities should also transform their customs and traditions to make them conform to the exigencies of the time.

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