updating death date in authority files - Widowhood dating

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 imposing health risks.

It may be necessary for a woman to comply with the social customs of her area because her fiscal stature depends on it, but this custom is also often abused by others as a way to keep money within the deceased spouse's family.

This custom, called sati, was outlawed in 1827 in British India and again in 1987 in independent India by the Sati Prevention Act, which made it illegal to support, glorify or attempt to commit sati.

Widow inheritance (also known as bride inheritance) is a cultural and social practice whereby a widow is required to marry a male relative of her late husband, often his brother.

Until the early 19th century it was considered honourable in some parts of India for a Hindu widow to immolate herself on her late husband's funeral pyre.

This negatively impacts the mental as well as physical well being in both men and women (Utz, Reidy, Carr, Nesse, & Wortman, 2004 as Cited in Mumtaz 71).

In parts of Africa, such as Kenya, widows are viewed as impure and need to be 'cleansed'. Those refusing to be cleansed risk getting beaten by superstitious villagers, who may also harm the woman's children.

In societies where the husband is the sole provider, his death can leave his family destitute.

The tendency for women generally to outlive men can compound this, as can men in many societies marrying women younger than themselves.

While it is disputed as to whether sex plays a part in the intensity of grief, sex often influences how an individual's lifestyle changes after a spouse's death.

Research has shown that the difference falls in the burden of care, expectations, and how they react after the spouse's death.

However, the United Nations 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.

There remains controversy over whether women or men have worse effects from becoming widowed, and studies have attempted to make their case for which sex is worse off, while other studies try to show that there are no true differences based on sex, and other factors are responsible for any differences.

Both sexes tend to have a harder time looking after themselves without their spouse to help, though these changes may differ based on the sex of the widow and the role the spouse played in their life.

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