Widows 'bring bad luck'

The National newspaper reports from Oman on a rarely-discussed phenomenon: prejudice against widows.

"Many Omani widows struggle to lead happy lives after losing their husbands in a society that treats them as a burden and bad luck," the paper says. "According to a local superstition, anyone they marry is destined to die a premature death."

Widows tend to be shunned and are rarely invited to social events. "No one likes to admit it, but we are treated like social outcasts; it’s all smiles in front, but frowns behind your back,” according to 29-year-old Sabiha Malik whose husband died three years ago, leaving her with two young children.

The article continues:

Women’s rights activists say the superstition is contrary to Islamic teaching, but is kept alive by men who do not want to be saddled with orphaned children and by women reluctant to share their husbands with second wives ... In the Qur’an, Muslim men are allowed to marry four wives, and one of the reasons given is to help provide a new life for widowed women. 

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 23 November 2009.