Widow


Widow

A widow is a woman whose spouse has died. A man whose spouse has died is a widower. The state of having lost one's spouse to death is termed widowhood or (occasionally) viduity. The adjective is widowed.The social status of widows has been an important social issue, particularly in the past. In families in which the husband was the sole provider, widowhood could plunge the family into poverty, and many charities had as a goal the aid of widows and orphans (often, not children without parents, but children without a contributing father). This was aggravated by women's longer life spans, and that men generally marry women younger than themselves, and by the greater ease with which men remarried.

However, in some patriarchal societies, widows were among the most independent women. A widow sometimes carried on her late husband's business and consequently was accorded certain rights, such as the right to enter guilds. More recently, widows of elected officials have been among the first women elected to office in many countries (e.g. Corazon Aquino).

There were implications for sexual freedom as well; although some wills contained "dum casta" provisions (requiring widows to remain unmarried in order to receive inheritance), in societies preventing divorce, widowhood permitted women to remarry and have a greater range of sexual experiences. The Wife of Bath in Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" refers to having been widowed five times, permitting her greater sexual experience.In some other cultures, widows are treated differently. For instance, in India there is often an elaborate ceremony during the funeral of a widow's husband, including smashing the bangles, removing the bindi as well as any colorful attire, and requiring the woman to wear white clothes, the colour of mourning. Earlier it was compulsory to wear all white after the husband was dead, and even Widow burning (sati or suttee) was practiced sometimes. However in modern-day culture this has gradually given way to wearing colored clothing. Sati practice has been banned in India for more than a century. The ban began under British rule of India owing to the persistence of social reformer RajaRam Mohan Roy.

In other cultures, widows are "required" to remarry within the family of their late husband; see widow inheritance. This started as a custom to ensure that no widow could be kicked out of her home and face a life without financial provision, but it can also be used to keep money within the family. In addition, it is an important factor in the transmission of HIV within certain communities, e.g. the Luo, and is being challenged on human rights grounds.

Cultural references to widows

*Water (2005 film) a film directed and written by Deepa Mehta, explores the lives of widows at an ashram in Varanasi, India.

ee also

*Marriage
*Bereavement
*Black Widow
*Orphan
*Estate Planning

External links

* [http://womennewsnetwork.net/2007/11/05/nothing-to-go-back-to-the-fate-of-the-widows-of-vrindavan-india/"Nothing to Go Back To - The Fate of the Widows of Vrindavan, India"] WNN - Women News Network Nov 5, 2007
* [http://www.griefsjourney.com Grief's Journey (focuses on spousal loss)]
* [http://griefangels.webng.com GriefAngels - Activities for Widows]
* [http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/07/05/damon.india.widows/#cnnSTCText] "Shunned from society, widows flock to city to die"


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • WIDOW — (Heb. אַלְמָנָה, almanah; pl. אַלְמָנוֹת, almanot). Biblical Period The Hebrew substantive almanah, usually translated widow, often does not simply denote a woman whose husband is dead, but rather a once married woman who has no means of… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Widow — • Canonical prescriptions concerning widows in the Old Testament refer mainly to the question of remarriage Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Widow     Widow      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Widow — Wid ow (w[i^]d [ o]), n. [OE. widewe, widwe, AS. weoduwe, widuwe, wuduwe; akin to OFries. widwe, OS. widowa, D. weduwe, G. wittwe, witwe, OHG. wituwa, witawa, Goth. widuw[=o], Russ. udova, OIr. fedb, W. gweddw, L. vidua, Skr. vidhav[=a]; and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Widow — Wid ow, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Widowed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Widowing}.] [1913 Webster] 1. To reduce to the condition of a widow; to bereave of a husband; rarely used except in the past participle. [1913 Webster] Though in thus city he Hath widowed… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • widow — n. A wife who remains alive after her husband dies. The Essential Law Dictionary. Sphinx Publishing, An imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. Amy Hackney Blackwell. 2008. widow A woman whose husband died while she was married to him …   Law dictionary

  • Widow — Wid ow, a. Widowed. A widow woman. 1 Kings xvii. 9. This widow lady. Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • WIDOW — is a full length album recorded by British rock band Ritual released in 1983. The album gained notability for the band when it was played several times by Alan Freeman on the Friday Rock Show.Also played on The World Service during an hour long… …   Wikipedia

  • widow — ► NOUN 1) a woman who has lost her husband by death and has not married again. 2) humorous a woman whose husband is often away participating in a specified sport or activity: a golf widow. ► VERB (be widowed) ▪ become a widow or widower. ORIGIN… …   English terms dictionary

  • widow — [wid′ō] n. [ME widwe < OE widewe, akin to Ger witwe, L vidua < IE * widhewo , separated < base * weidh , to separate: see DIVIDE] 1. a woman who has outlived the man to whom she was married at the time of his death; esp., such a woman… …   English World dictionary

  • Widow —   [engl.] Hurenkind …   Universal-Lexikon

  • widow — {{11}}widow (n.) O.E. widewe, widuwe, from P.Gmc. *widewo (Cf. O.S. widowa, O.Fris. widwe, M.Du., Du. weduwe, Du. weeuw, O.H.G. wituwa, Ger. Witwe, Goth. widuwo), from PIE adj. *widhewo (Cf. Skt. vidhuh lonely, solitary, vidhava …   Etymology dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.