Abused and destitute: Wars fuel rise in global number of widows

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Attacks by Rohingya Muslim insurgents on the Myanmar security forces in Rakhine state triggered a response by the army and Buddhist vigilantes so brutal a senior UN official denounced it as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. (REUTERS)
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Rohingya Muslim women, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, stretch their arms out to collect sanitary products distributed by aid agencies near Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (AP)
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Displaced Sunni women fleeing the violence in Ramadi, carry bags as they walk on the outskirts of Baghdad, May 24, 2015. (REUTERS)
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This combo photo comprises of portraits of some of the Rohingya Muslim women taken during an interview with The Associated Press in November 2017 in Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. (AP)
Updated 23 June 2018

Abused and destitute: Wars fuel rise in global number of widows

  • One in seven widows globally — 38 million — lives in extreme poverty
  • Deaths through conflict and disease contributed to a 9 percent increase in the number of widows between 2010 and 2015

LONDON: Millions of widows worldwide suffer crushing poverty and persecution, their numbers swelled by a proliferation of conflicts from Syria to Myanmar.
International Widows’ Day on June 23 aims to raise awareness of the often hidden injustices they face.
Many are robbed of their inheritance, while others are enslaved by in-laws, accused of witchcraft or forced into abusive sexual rituals. Here are some facts:
- Experts estimated there were 258.5 million widows globally in 2015, but say the number is likely to have risen.
- Deaths through conflict and disease contributed to a 9 percent increase in the number of widows between 2010 and 2015.
- The biggest jump has been in the Middle East and North Africa, where the estimated number of widows rose 24 percent between 2010 and 2015, partly due to the Syrian war and other conflicts.
- One in seven widows globally — 38 million — lives in extreme poverty.
- One in 10 women of marital age is widowed. The proportion is about one in five in Afghanistan and Ukraine.
- A third of widows worldwide live in India or China. India, with an estimated 46 million widows in 2015, has overtaken China (44.6 million) to become the country with the largest number of widows.
- Widow “cleansing” rituals in some sub-Saharan countries may require a widow to drink the water used to wash her dead husband’s body or to have sex with an in-law, village “cleanser” or stranger.
- Campaigners for widows’ rights say such rituals, which are intended to rid a widow of her husband’s spirit, spread disease and are a violation of dignity.
- Widows are regularly accused of killing their husbands either deliberately or through neglect — including by transmitting HIV/AIDS — in India, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and sub-Saharan Africa.
- Property seizures and evictions by the late husband’s family are widespread in many places including Angola, Bangladesh, Botswana, India, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
- A significant number of girls are widowed in childhood — a reflection of the prevalence of child marriage in developing countries and the custom of marrying off young girls to much older men.


Player, spectators stabbed in Sydney rugby league violence

Updated 10 August 2020

Player, spectators stabbed in Sydney rugby league violence

SYDNEY: One man has been charged and another remains under police guard in a hospital after a low-tier rugby league game in Sydney ended with one player allegedly stabbed another competitor and two spectators.
Australian Associated Press reported Monday that New South Wales state police had arrested and charged a 20-year-old man with affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The man was due to face court Monday.
Police and emergency services were called to Old Saleyards Reserve in North Parramatta on Sunday following reports of an assault after an under-20s community game between Wentworthville Magpies and Penrith Brothers.
A 19-year-old player and two spectators, aged 16 and 22, were injured during the incident and the injured men remain in Westmead Hospital.
New South Wales Rugby League chief executive David Trodden described the incident as “sickening criminal behavior.”
“Everyone who enjoys community sport at the weekend should expect to be able to do in a safe environment and it is nothing short of appalling that an incident like this has taken place in an area adjacent to where one of our matches was being conducted,” Trodden said in a statement.
NSW Ambulance Inspector Nathan Sheraton said paramedics provided life-saving treatment.
“When we arrived at the scene it was very alarming — these were brutal attacks,” he said in a statement.
Both teams have been stood from the competition down pending the police investigation.