This is the wife of Yar'Adua, the former president of Nigeria, grieving the death of her late husband.
                                    The Sharia
    The Sharia, which are the laws of the Islamic faith, are the only religious laws in Nigeria that rules shows how widows should be treated. It allows women to inherit land and lists those who can inherit property after the death of the male head of the household. Therefore, in Northern Nigeria,which is predominantly Muslim, widows are not subjugated to such harmful and cruel practices that exist in the South.

 The Customary Law Manual of 1977
      The Customary Law Manual of 1977 are the set of laws that main customary courts based their decisions on. This set of laws exclude both widows and women in general. These laws did not allow women to inherit any piece of land in her community, unless she is approved by her sons or husband's relatives. This custom's purpose is designed to keep the male as the head of the household. This custom is obsolete in the North and in the West, where knowledge and education have helped changed the outlook on women.
Customary Law Rights (Rights that are disobeyed in dealing with widows)
  • The right to life- this right is invaluable and should not be deprived from a citizen but that is not the case for widows, especially when they are force to drink the water that was used in bathing the corpse, which can kill them
  • The right to human dignity- this constitution states that no one should be subjected to torture or inhumane treatment. On the other hand, the culture requires the widow to sit on the floor or scrape their head etc.
  • The right to personal liberty- this right is infringed by the restriction and confinement of widows
  • The right of association- widows are restricted from going to meeting, the market and social gatherings during the period of mourning

    Since a wife is seen as a chattel, she is therefore not allowed to inherit any land and can be inherited by an in-law. Nonetheless, women are seen as property. Because women are not as powerful in these areas, many are forced to comply to these atrocious customs. However, they are things within the national law that can be used in the defense of widows, such as the fact that they have the right to a trial. According to the law, all suspects are innocent until proven guilty. Because a widow is commonly seen as the prime suspect in her husband's death, she is therefore entitled to a fair trial, in which she can take her in-laws to court. If they don't have sufficient evidence to prove her guilty of her husband's death, the law is on her side. However, many fear the revenge that their relatives will inflict on them so they don't attempt to question their fate.

                                      Enugu State's Recent Laws
        No person for whatever purpose or reason shall compel a widow/ widower as follows:
        a) to permit their hairs of the head or any other part of the body be shaved.
        b) to sleep with a corpse
        c) to not receive condolence  visit from sympathizers during the period of mourning
        d) to sit on the floor or be naked during the husband's/wife's burial rights.
        e) to weep and wail loudly or to announce the loss of her husband/wife unless one does it voluntarily
         f)  to remain in confinement after the death of the husband/wife for any given period.
                                                   Support Groups
                               A growing number of organizations and foundations have sought to end this ongoing problem. One support center called Widows Development Organization is working hard to fight against this social injustice. Their goals are:
  • To promote awareness of the rights of widows locally, nationwide and worldwide.
  • To bring about change in the social status of widows
  • To help support the children of the widows
  • To provide counseling
  • To help these women generate their own source of income

                     ~Though law and education are changing these practices, the stigma remains.~