News / Asia

India’s Ostracized Widows Get Second Chance

India’s Ostracized Widows Get Second Chancei
X
October 15, 2013 4:18 PM
Nearly 2,000 widows who have been abandoned by society and their families live in government shelters lacking basic amenities in India's northern city Vrindavan. The Supreme Court last year said the women should be given the resources and support they need to live their lives with dignity. VOA New Delhi correspondent Aru Pande has more on one organization that is trying to make that ruling a reality.
Aru Pande
Nearly 2,000 widows who have been abandoned by society and their families live in government shelters lacking basic amenities in India's northern city Vrindavan.  The Supreme Court last year said the women should be given the resources and support they need to live their lives with dignity. One organization is trying to make that ruling a reality.

Arati Mistry had almost given up on life. Married at 16 and widowed just two years later, the now 55-year-old recalls how she could barely make ends meet.

“I used to wonder, how can I survive? I went through hardship. I used to ask for food, work in people’s homes.  I couldn’t take it anymore, so I came here,” she recalled.
 
Mistry and nearly 900 other widows in Vrindavan are now getting a second chance, after being adopted by the Indian non-governmental organization Sulabh International. 

After last year's Supreme Court ruling nothing the widow's deplorable living conditions, the court suggested that Sulabh could help out. Now the self-funded group provides food, medical care, a roughly $40 monthly stipend, schooling and vocational training for those living in the city’s government-run shelters.
 
Sulabh founder Bindeshwar Pathak says it’s a dramatic change for many women who were cast out of their homes by family members and ostracized by society, often left to beg near temples to survive.

“Ten months ago, they wanted to die, now they want to live longer to enjoy life, they are very happy.  In that way we have brought about a change in the minds of women, because they now they get all the facilities,” he said.

Many of these widows had no way of supporting themselves and traveled from the eastern state of West Bengal to live their remaining years at Vrindavan, known as the birthplace of the Hindu god Krishna.
 
Although Indian society is slowly changing, for centuries widows have been seen as inauspicious and sometimes even blamed for their husband’s death.  Resigned to an austere and isolated life, many are not allowed to participate in religious functions such as marriages.
 
But this year, for the first time in decades, these women celebrated the Hindu festival Holi. Sociology Professor Ravi Prakash Pandey says Sulabh is giving the women an opportunity to rejoin mainstream society.

“Sulabh is providing not only a financial support but also providing a radical change to eradicate the social taboos which have already been imposed by society,” he said.
 
Many widows like Arti Mistry say Sulabh's free health care, higher standard of living and amenities like televisions have meant dramatic changes in their lives in just a few months.

“I have so much peace. God has sent me these people for a peaceful life that even my parents could not provide for me. I am leading a new, peaceful life,” she said.
 
The women here say they now have a purpose and a future they never thought was possible.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid