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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.