Widows of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis who were not legally married to their spouses who died during the genocide are seeking advocacy to have ownership on the land they helped their spouses acquire.
These widows admit they co-habited with their spouses due to illiteracy and not knowing the effects such arrangements would have to their rights, according to a two day conference held in Gakenke district February 25th to 27th, 2014
Some of these women were traditionally wedded and not legally; the arrangement is so far not valid considering the ownership of the man’s possession after such man is deceased.
Sabine Uwase, AVEGA’s legal officer (an association for genocide widows) says it is unfair for women who were not officially married to be denied the rights on their husbands’ properties.
According to Uwase, these women need advocacy to have a law that protects them especially on the property they helped acquire.
One of the Widows, Laurence Muhawenimana explains that legal marriage in their time was not much of a priority and the government did not care about people’s arrangements, or people’s rights in that matter.
After the death of her husband, Laurence lost the right to property and was ignored by the husband’s relatives.
Some of the women who were lucky to have children with their deceased husbands remained with their children but others especially those who did not have children were chased away from their husbands homes.
In Rwandan law, women who are legally married have the same rights on the ownership of land and other properties according to the law.
Women are encouraged to avoid cohabitating since it has negative effects on them and their children when it comes to inheritance in case of the husband’s death.