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date: 15 April 2024

Widow Suicide. 

Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia Women in World History
Author(s):
Janet TheissJanet Theiss

The practice of wives, consorts, or retainers following a husband, lord, or ruler in death has been attested at many points in history and in every region of the world, including Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. In the Confucian cultures of China and Korea and the Hindu cultures of India and Indonesia, however, a woman's suicide following the death of her husband was widely venerated as the highest manifestation of female chastity—through rituals, commemorative hagiographies, and public monuments that bestowed the significance of a religious cult on the virtue of sexual loyalty to one husband. In both India and China the sexuality of women was considered a dangerous social force, and widows who were not under the control of a husband aroused much suspicion and anxiety because they were understood to be especially prone to transgression. In both cultures, handbooks and oral maxims based on moral regulations from ancient ritual texts instructed all women to preserve their chastity through practices of gender separation, female seclusion, veiling, and gendered divisions of labor.... ...

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