Woman chased away by in-laws for 'refusing to be inherited'

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A 42-year-old woman from Cheptul village in Manda-Shivanga ward, Lugari sub-county is seeking government intervention after her father-in-law allegedly chased her from her matrimonial home after she refused to be inherited.

Rebecca Moi was happily married for eight years but her husband’s death in a road accident in August 2018 is tearing her home apart.

“I got married to Daniel Moi Samuel in 2012 and was blessed with four children. My husband died in a road accident in the Chimoi area along the Webuye-Eldoret highway.  After his burial, my father-in-law demanded I get married to my brother-in-law but I refused,” she says.

“He demolished my house and forced me out of his compound. The county government through the widow shelter program constructed for me a house but my father-in-law again insisted that for me to start living in the house I must be inherited by his son.”

She reveals that she sought help from village elders, the area administrator, and the children’s department who summoned the father-in-law but he remained adamant that she must stick to culture.

She was forced to stay in a rental house for three months and when she was unable to pay rent, she ended up on the streets where a neighbour took her to a vacant house in Tande.

“The owner of the house is almost coming back and I don’t know how I will survive. I am appealing to authorities to help me get back to my home, give my children a decent life, and take them to school since I survive on digging people’s farms where I get an average of Sh150 which goes to buying food,” she says.

She insists that she resisted the practice because it can expose her to many risks including that of getting infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

Widows suffer in silence

According to Emily Andanje, a community leader with Groots, a national movement of grassroots women-led community-based groups (CBOs) and self-help groups (SHGs), the culture of widow inheritance is still being practiced but silently in Western.

Though today it is not as pronounced as it used to be in the late 1960s, reality hits the moment one’s spouse dies leaving the partner vulnerable and exposed.

She pointed out that many widows suffer in silence as a result of cultural expectations and fear of being ridiculed by family if they refuse to be inherited.

“Such culture should be condemned since it keeps the lives of children and women at risk. Wife inheritance is still being practiced whereby a widow is forced to marry a brother-in-law once the husband is dead in anticipation that he will protect her and ensure family continuity,” she says.

“We condemn such an appeal for the relevant authority to take action and ensure the woman and her children get justice by returning her to her home so that she can comfortably take care of her children.”

Moi’s father-in-law, Samuel Amakhaya Mwanzo, refuted the claims, noting that they were meant to tarnish his reputation.

“My daughter–in–law left home without informing us and we later learned she got married to someone else in Tande village. She later on convinced my son and stayed with him a thing the community questioned since traditions must be conducted before she’s allowed back to her house. My son was to come back to conduct traditions but unfortunately, he died,” Mr Mwanzo said.

He further claimed that after the burial, the woman demanded to come back home but the elders refused.

“I pleaded with the elders since I have many grandchildren I am taking care of and she be allowed to come back home and stay with her children. Even the county government constructed for her a house but she started cohabiting with different men and when questioned about she got annoyed and left.”

He went on: “I later learned she got married somewhere else. She even summoned me to the children's department office, sub-chief, and police in Malava that I had beaten her, forced her to be inherited by my son, and refused to take care of my grandchildren yet when she was here, I was the one taking care of them. Because of such false allegations, I will not allow her back here unless I am dead,” Mwanzo alleged.

Affairs with different men

According to the woman’s brother-in-law, Isaac Wumba, she left home after being caught having affairs with different men.

“My sister-in-law should stop blame games and take care of the children. My brother left three acres of land which she should utilize wisely through farming and taking children to school,” Wumba noted.

Cheptuli assistant chief Philip Chaos admitted he was aware of the case and even helped in solving the dispute.

“The woman in question used to have wrangles with her late husband and she was allowed to stay in her matrimonial home but she leased her farm and left with her children after the husband’s death and got married to someone else,” he noted.

He further confirmed that the county government constructed her one-bedroom house, and gave her a blanket and mattress after learning her plight in 2019.

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