The social context of widowhood rites and women's human rights in Cameroon
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Since the United Nations Decade for Women (1975-1985) gender-based violence (GBV) has increasingly received global attention and eventuated in the earmarking of 23 June 2011 as the first-ever International Widow's Day. This case study examines the social logic of superstitious beliefs and associated fears
sustaining the dehumanizing practice of widowhood rites and practices (WRP) with its negative consequences on women's well-being among the Balengou of Western Cameroon. It argues that WRP should be understood through the double process of disavowal and projection, 'false consciousness' and as a 'patriarchal bargain'.
It argues for the strengthening of women's rights through gender-neutral marriage, succession and inheritance legislation based on notions of equality and social justice between the sexes, the harmonization and humanization of WRP, and an intersectionalist approach to GBV and development.
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