Social Stigmas of widows-An Analysis

K Pankajam - 29 May 2018

Widows are facing various threats like social ostracism, denial of human rights, homelessness, violence, emotional threats besides physical abuses, sexual exploitation and harassment .  As boil on the bump, they silently suffer physically, psychologically, financially both within and outside homes. The fact is that much of the violence against widows occurs within the family.

 

Violence against women is the most serious challenges of present day in many countries.  Atrocious crimes are committed against women as a whole, not to mention the vulnerability of widows.  For that matter the children of the widows are also vulnerable.   They are withdrawn from schools for economic reasons, the general situation as of today has seen an impetus though. Child marriages are also high among the wards of widows, paving the way to higher rate of maternal deaths. 

           

The sight of a widow is considered to be a bad omen in many parts of the country.  Once losing husbands, they are exploited emotionally and economically. Widowed women are often denied inheritance in the patriarchal system.  Now that the educational standards of women are better, they are in a better position to argue their case themselves independently.  In the olden days widows were condemned and they lived a life of being dead.   They are degraded socially, kept away from auspicious gatherings,  forced to shave off their heads, even evicted from their houses  and allowed to wear only white attires.  Restrictions on their mobility, diet and social gatherings are also imposed on them.  All these restrictions kill the women’s self-respect and they live in a hostile environment perennially.   It is disheartening to note that while women are being respected   depicted gloriously,  equalizing them to ‘Devi’  in scriptures, they are being treated  inhumanely in the society.

 

Though provision of protection against violations of human rights exist and fundamental rights are guaranteed by our constitution, there should be proper implementation of the same in spirits by the concerned. Pity is that they exist only in letters.   Not just promulgating laws, but the will to implement them is of utmost importance.  Policies and protocols to check such evil practices are the need of the hour.  

 

The issues of widows should be analyzed from sociological perspective and remedies chalked out.  First and foremost,  unless the mindset of the society changes, nothing can change for the better.  Women’s organizations, human rights commissions, social/women activists, religious organizations etc. are supposed to actively and effectively participate in the problem solving initiative. Social security measures such as employment to widows, financial grants to start independent business ventures will also go a long way in alleviating the hardships of widows.  Let’s hope that the attention of those in power would turn towards the pitiable state of our women.

 

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