Russian widow can now bury Luo spouse
A judge yesterday ruled that widows are the sole deciders of their husbands burial.In a land mark ruling, High Court judge Weldon Korir, gave Russian woman Svetlana Radol, the right to lay to rest her husband dismissing plea by her Luo in-laws to be allowed to bury their son. This means Svetlana can now go ahead and cremate the remains of her husband, Joseph Radol.
The judge held that the widow has greatest responsibility to lay to rest the remains of her husband. “There has to be somebody to bury a deceased person. In my view a surviving spouse is the person with the greatest responsibility of laying to rest the remains of a deceased spouse. That is the only way marriage can have any meaningful purpose. Even if the deceased in this case had not said anything about the disposal of his remains, the defendant (Svetlana) would still have carried the day,” ruled the judge.
Justice Korir held that even though the constitution recognises cultural practices the same must not be oppressive and contrary to the supreme law. He noted that the constitution has liberated Kenyans from the bondage of customs and traditions and for those who want to escape from the clutches of culture they can do so without being forced by other members of their communities to adhere to traditions.
“In my opinion, this is good news for cross-cultural marriages. Customs which relegate a widow to the periphery when it comes to the sending off of her deceased husband cannot be said to be in tandem with the constitution.” Justice Korir added, “Equality before law means that traditional practices must give way to the wishes of a widow who does not wish to follow those practices. As regards marriage, the constitution has now made it clear that those who exchange vows must accept to share the bed of equality.”
It is not tenable to deny a widow the right to lay to rest remains of her husband, he said. Justice Korir also ordered that the Sh52,500 deposited in court by the relatives of Radol as security to be released to the widow so that she can use it to pay the mortuary charges. The decision by the judge arose out of a case filed by relatives of Radol seeking to stop Svetlana from cremating his remains.
Her in-laws moved to court after she advertised in the local dailies that the remains of the doctor will be cremated. The relatives who moved to court are John Omondi and Charles Apuko.In their view, this cremation should not be allowed to take place because it is against the Luo customs.
Svetlana claims her husband did not have any brother, but had only two sisters who have been close to the family since her husband's illness and death. She said her sisters-in-law have not opposed his cremation. However, the sisters seem to have had a change of heart later as they now opted for the burial of their brother in Alego next to the grave of their mother Sarah Atieno Radol. Svetlana who is 75-year-old, met with her late husband in Russia where they got married and relocated to Kenya.