Traditionally in Kenya, when a married woman becomes a widow she must be married once again, “inherited” by a family member of the former husband or another relation. She has no choice in the matter. It’s a tradition that comes from old tribal customs. If the woman refuses, the family and the community isolate and ostracise her.
She is deprived of all support and her dead husband’s family confiscates all her goods and properties, leaving her and her children, alone and destitute. Many of these widows refuse the tradition because their husbands died of HIV and they are also positive. They refuse to prevent other people from being infected or if they are not infected, to keep from getting infected by an already infected inherited husband.
Four years ago, a group of these women formed an association, The Santa Monica Women’s Group, the subject of Widows Inheritance, the project carried out by Giuseppe Chiantera in 2013. This association not a formal, legally recognised association but it’s a form of creating a community where widows can support each other, both psychologically and materially. The association generates income for its members by making bricks.