Shaving of the head
It is a process of using a razor, blade or any other sharp instrument to scrape off the hair completely from a widow.

Reason: Many people of the South East, which is predominantly Igbo, believe that the beauty of a woman is only for her husband. Therefore, they shave the head in order to make the woman feel less complete or in other words, less of a woman since her duties as a wife are no longer useful. Most      widows see it as an outward show of their grief, which is why the majority of them do it voluntarily.

    When a man dies a lot of his property is taken forcefully by his relatives. Most widows are left with nothing to cater for themselves and their children. Sometimes the widow is given out to marriage to a brother or any other blood relative of the husband.

Reason: For the most part, Nigeria is a patriarchal society, in which women are seen as chattel. A chattel is incapable of owning property, so widow are not entitled to any property. The only exception is if the woman has a living male child. If she has a son, her son can inherit the land since he is a male.

                                        Sitting on the floor

This practice requires the widow to sit on the bare earth, mat or mattress on the floor. She can not sit or sleep on a proper chair or bed. Her "throne is gone".

Reason: According to Igbo custom, marriage makes a woman complete. When she loses her spouse, she loses part of her self. This position of 'dethronement' causes health problems such as back pain, headache and other related illnesses.

                                                  Past Practices

  • Widows are often seen as untouchable. Hence, many of them are driven out of their marital homes, sometimes even their village.
  • Some widows were confined anywhere from one week to a year, in which they are not allowed to cook, go to the market, or fetch water.
  • Widows were sometimes forced to sleep alone in the same room as their husband's corpse. In some areas, widows were forced to drink the water used in bathing the husband's corpse.
  • Widows are often forced to show some sort of grief for their deceased husband, whether it's through wailing, crying or annoucing her loss of her presence in public.

Though some of these practices are no longer in tune, traditional religious adherents still practice the above rights.