India’s abandoned widows.

As a self-confessed misanthrope, not much about the evil of mankind surprises me, but last night an ABC programme called “Foreign Correspondent” brought my low opinion of mankind to a new nadir.

It dealt with the treatment of widows in India, who are shunned by their own families as well as by society after their husband dies.
Apparently, widows are deemed to be unlucky to have around and are often blamed for the deaths of their husbands.

Consequently, they are thrown out of their homes, rejected by their sons and end up begging for food.

Trevor Borman, a journalist for ‘Foreign Correspondent” introduces the report as follows

The Indian movie, “Water” was nominated for an Academy Award this year in the Best Foreign Language film category.

Set in 1938 colonial India, it told the story of a group of women condemned by Hindu law to spend the rest of their lives isolated from the world in ashrams, living a life of poverty and deprivation – because they are widows.

Trevor Bormann found not much has changed in 70 years – when he visited the beautiful and holy city Vrindavan, where he found the plight of India’s widows today remains much the same.

“She’s relegated, she becomes a zero and all her powers are lost’ Dr Mohini Giri, leading light of India’s women’s movement, and a widow herself tells Bormann.

Turned away by their own families, thousands of women, young and old, continue to arrive in Vrindavan – the holiest of holy places for the followers of Hare Krishna.

They come for one reason – to live out their days in worship, in the hope that death will come soon with its promise of a better after-life than they have in this world.

Just as I was beginning to be impressed by what India has achieved in the past few years, the fate of the widows makes me realise that making great strides in the IT industry does not make India a developed nation. Technological progress is one thing but try to tell the widows of Vrindavan who are treated like lepers that India has come a long way.

I must have been wrong when I believed that Indians are very family oriented. If they are so devoted to family then how can sons abandon their widowed mothers? This is a great shame for the nation.

On reflection, however, it is very plausible when one remembers that it is in India that unsuitable brides can be disfigured or even killed by their husbands. and of course, there is also the problem of child labour. This is all too horrifying to contemplate.

How ironic that India can be viewed as a high achiever in industry and computing and yet be so shamefully backward in its treatment of women and children. One, therefore, has to wonder what constitutes a developed nation.

Is it commercial progress or is it the quality of life of its citizens?

Surely it requires a yes to both choices, for India cannot call itself civilised until it treats all its people with dignity and respect. I know that the same indictment can be levelled at many nations in this world, but casting out your mum when pop dies is Satanic.

Being good at telemarketing is simply not good enough.


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