Mosammat Rashida holds a portrait of her husband who was killed by a tiger.
Of all the things women have to face in this world, merely for being born as one, here’s another story that would take you by surprise.
Bangladeshi women whose husbands have been killed by tigers, are being abandoned, shunned and left alone.
The Tiger widows as they are also called are considered the reason behind the husbands misfortune. Sometimes they are also branded a witch.
Abandoned by her sons, shunned by her neighbours and branded a witch.
Mosammat Rashida's crime? Her husband was killed by a Bengal tiger.
Women like her are ostracised in many rural villages in Bangladesh, where they are viewed as the cause of their partner's misfortune.
"My sons have told me that I am an unlucky witch," she told AFP in her flimsy plank home, in the honey-hunters' village of Gabura at the edge of the Sundarbans -- a 10,000-square-kilometre (3,860-square-mile) mangrove forest that straddles Bangladesh and India.
Her husband died while out collecting honey in the jungles there.
"Honey-hunters prefer to collect honey mostly in the southwestern Sundarbans, where most of the man-eaters (tigers) live," leading Bengal tiger expert at Jahangirnagar University, Monirul Khan, told AFP.
tigers are an endangered species but climate change and human development is reducing their wild habitat, often forcing them towards villages in search of food.
Wildlife charities estimate there are some 100 tigers in the Bangladesh side of the Sundarbans.
At least 519 men died from tiger attacks in 50 villages in one district -- home to half a million people -- between 2001 and 2011, according to Ledars Bangladesh, a charity helping widows reintegrate back in the villages.
'Bring bad luck'
Rashida is heartbroken but unsurprised that her adult sons, aged 24 and 27, abandoned her and their too young siblings.
"They are part of this society after all," the 45-year-old said, as she wiped tears from her eyes.
Her tiny shack has no roof -- it was blown off by a deadly cyclone -- but there have been no offers of help from neighbours or officials, who she claims helped others in the village but shunned her.
Instead she uses an old tarpaulin to keep the elements out.
Rijia Khatun, who said she has learnt to cope with being ostracised by her fellow villagers after her honey-hunter husband's death 15 years ago, has been secretly supported by her nephew and his family.
"My sons were young. But nobody helped me. I felt bad at first as they kept blaming me for my husband's death. I didn't know what was my fault," she recalled, adding: "But now I've learnt to live with this adversity."
Her nephew Yaad Ali, who has witnessed several attacks including his uncle's, explained that while he wanted to help, he could not do so publicly.
"We had to do it (help Khatun) with confidentiality or else the village society would have ostracised us as well," he confessed.
People in Bangladesh now live longer now compared to decades back and the increase in life expectancy is more in the case of women than men, according to a government study.
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