Widows suffering social death: MP

India has one of the largest population of widows in the world and many of them suffer a “social death” with the passing away of their spouses.

As most of them are dependent on families and live in neglect and no proper legal framework available for ensuring their well being, DMK MP Tiruchi Siva is now moving a private resolution in Rajya Sabha seeking a legislation to ensure social security for destitute widows.

BBC

Siva, whose private member’s bill on transgenders prompted the government to bring one in Parliament, also wants the government to frame a policy that enables widows get financial assistance at par with current living standards.

As per 2011 Census, India houses 4.32 crore widows, which accounts for 7.37% of the total women population in the country and around 60% are in the 70-74 years age group.

The DMK MP’s private member’s resolution, which may now come up on January 5, points out that customs in Indian society are still engrained in age old practices where death of the husband is considered as a social taboo. This “affects every aspect of the life of the widow and many of them suffer a social death”, the resolution says.

“Widowhood in India is not an ideal social condition and remarriage of widows is a rare phenomenon as widows in India face problems on economic, social, legal and health fronts,” according to Siva.

One of the issues highlighted by the resolution is the denial of access to property by family members to widows. Citing a study by the National Commission for Women (NCW) in 2016 on the condition of widows in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, it said 84% of widows had no access to any family property and 15% had no access because their children or other family members had taken away the property.

Siva also wants the government to conduct nation-wide study on the condition of widows and use the findings to take necessary steps for their welfare.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 26, 2017)

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