Story

Ugandan Widow's Relatives Stole Everything. Now She's Fighting Back.

February 09, 2017|

In some parts of the world, a husband’s death brings his widow not only personal grief but also a new life of extraordinary hardship, poverty, powerlessness, and abuse.

In Uganda, widowed women can suffer a multitude of injustices: They can be forced out of their homes, robbed of everything they own, made to marry a brother-in-law, physically attacked or harmed — even their children can be taken away from them. These offenses stem from traditional Buganda culture, where women would never be able to own or inherit land. And while the Ugandan Constitution grants equal rights to men and women, people in rural areas continue to take advantage of these women with little fear of consequences.

This is the story of Betty Nanozi, who was widowed just three weeks after her son, John Paul, was born. Over the 11 years of her widowhood, she describes how her husband’s children from a previous marriage (all adults) robbed her of everything twice, even threatening the life of her son (their half brother.) Now, with the help of attorneys, social workers, and criminal investigators from the International Justice Mission, Nanozi is fighting back. 

Read more about what life is like for widows in Uganda, India, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the National Geographic Magazine feature story: For Widows, Life After Loss.