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Opinions of Thursday, 5 July 2012

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Society Must End The Unspeakable Cruelty

Suffered By Many Widows In Ghana

By Kofi Thompson

An acquaintance drew my attention to a drama-of-deceit being played out on Ghana Television, in the afternoon of Tuesday 3rd July 2012.

It turned out to be the live telecasting of the appearance before the Public Accounts Committee of Ghana's Parliament (PAC), of a widow whose husband died in police custody, and the nephew of her late husband, who had succeeded his uncle in accordance with Akan customary practice.

They were being cross-examined by the committee's members, who, as it happens, are currently taking a look at the circumstances surrounding the payment, by the present government, of judgement-debts secured by claimants in the law courts, against the Republic of Ghana.

Widowed with six children to take care of, she and her offspring, had apparently been abandoned by her husband's extended family - including the nephew.

It emerged, during questioning by members of the committee - all of whom could not hide their disapproval of the mistreatment of the poor widow - that the nephew had kept the fact that some compensation had indeed been paid to him by the authorities two years ago, from both his own extended family, as well as the widow and her children.

Sadly, the monstrous and shabby treatment of that poor widow by her late husband's extended family, is not an isolated case.

On the contrary, many widows across Ghana, still face such horrific abuse of their human rights by the families they marry into, at what are some of the lowest points in their lives - on top of having to deal with the unending emotional pain wrought by the tragedy of losing their husbands.

Perhaps the time has come for society to act to finally end the unspeakable cruelty that so many widows in Ghana suffer, when their husbands' predecease them - at the precise moment in their lives when they most need the sympathy of those they are related to by marriage.

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