The status of a wife may be terminated by divorce, annulment, or the death of a spouse. In the case of divorce, terminology such as former-wife or ex-wife is often used. With regard to annulment, such terms are not, strictly speaking, correct, because annulment, unlike divorce, is usually retroactive, meaning that an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning almost as if it had never taken place. In the case of the death of the other spouse, the term used is widow. The social status of such women varies by culture, but in some places, they may be subject to potentially harmful practices, such as widow inheritance or levirate marriage; or divorced women may be socially stigmatized. In some cultures, the termination of the status of wife made life itself meaningless, as in the case of those cultures that practiced sati, a funeral ritual within some Asian communities, in which a recently widowed woman committed suicide by fire, typically on the husband's funeral pyre.
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