Situation and challenges faced by widows in my community

prakriti sapkota
Posted June 15, 2019 from Nepal
My grandmother

Deukala, a middle aged woman, widowed for 5 years now, in the Far- Western Region of Nepal, was blamed to be the cause of her husband's death.Recently,she was accused of the death of a buffalo in her neighborhood and the village people beat and tortured her. She was called a witch and they also tried to make her eat human excreta.

This is a representative example of how a widow is mis-treated and traumatized in the country,how widows are looked down upon and treated as inauspicious.

Even though a secular country, majority of people are Hindus in Nepal. According to the Hindu culture, married women wear red clothes, red bangles, tika and sindooor in their hairline to mark their marriage. After their husbands death, their shindoor is forcefully washed off, their bangles smashed and heir potes and ornaments snatched off. Ther are forced to wear white clothes to mourn to their husband's death for 1 whole year. Throughout their remaining life they are not permitted to wear res clothes or any ornaments. They cannot remarry and should stay single even if they are very young.

Widows are taken as inauspicious in any ceremony. May it be a wedding or a religious function, they are the un welcomed guests , the mere presence of whom is considered to bring misfortune and badluck. On seeing a widow on one's way, some people still postpone important works or spit frequently to ward off bad luck. Widows are confined to their household doing the chores and caring for the children. They are prohibited to freely move out of household premises. Neither they are allowed in their regular jobs nor can continue their further education. Access to basic needs like nutritious food, health care and recreation are out of topic.

Widows are among the most vulnerable categories ofpeople in the country. The social stigma attached to them deprive them of their basic human rights and freedom of speech. They are prey of physical and sexual assaults and harassments, accused of various sexual misseeds and are socially marginalized. We often hear about widows getting physically tortured in the name of evil witches, sexually harassed by the well known people of community , raped, and even forced to dispalce from their homes.

These taboos and social stigma to widowed women are entirely man made under the shadow of religion. Widows are forced to adapt self belief and patience. But the Hindu religion never restricred widow women and deprived of their rights,their possessions and ornaments. The patriarchial mindset still prevailing in the society makes widows more vulnerable and deprive their basic rights to freedom , speech, property and occupation.

In the conrext of nepal,the 2011 CBS data revealed that 87% of widow population were constrained by lack of resources and economic opportunities .One major cause of abrupt increase in number of widow in Nepal is the decade long insurgency or the Peoples' War during which large number of men were killed from both sides. Another was the 2015 earthquake,which left many women widows and vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation both within and outside the household as they no longer had a male guardian to 'protect ' them.

Despite many conventions,platforms or declarations for women, the issues of widowhood was not included in any international conventions. The post-2015 Sustainable Development agenda promises to 'leave nobody behind' ,thereby offering a ray of hope for overcoming stigma associated with marital status. In Nepal, at present, the issues of widows along with underprivilages and vulnerable groups of women started being voiced.

Today Nepal has more than 1500 single women groups,many volunteers ,many human rights acrivists and defenders, single women leaders, policymakers and national leaders to raise volice for a society without any discriminarion based on one's marital status. Women for Human Rights (WHR) ,a single womens group,NGO  established in 1994 and has been working forwidows issues in Nepal. The women friendly constitution ,widow friendly laws, plans and policies in constitution have given hope for many neglected widows across the country .

Remarriage of widows, rights to continue their study, occupation ,start of various skill generating trainings and programmes, government monthly icentive and right to property have given hope for widow for their better, independent, equitable and empowered tomorrow.

 

 

Comments 17

Log in or register to post comments
Lisbeth
Jun 15
Jun 15

Like seriously how can a widow kill Buffalo? Did she went for hunting or? Kill to eat the meat or use the skin for clothes? This is what am talking about. Death is part of our live circle but unfortunately if a man dies her wife is accused of killing him, really? Let me stop here before I get sensitive. Thanks for sharing and have a nice weekend.

prakriti sapkota
Jun 15
Jun 15

Yah..this may be shocking to hear.But this still happens in Nepal. Even an old woman is accused of such things in a community. Inhumane behaviour is done to the vulnerable, marginalized and poor people and this is even worst for single women. This is what still prevails in our community and i feel really disheartened to share this with u all.

Lisbeth
Jun 15
Jun 15

I know dear not only in Nepal. Its happening here, I have posted about it also here. Maybe you should check my recent posts. :-)

prakriti sapkota
Jun 16
Jun 16

Sure!!
I will check ur recent posts

Lisbeth
Jun 17
Jun 17

https://www.change.org/p/the-president-of-the-republic-of-ghana-close-do...

This is the link for my petition, please let's sign and make a change. Thx

Jill Langhus
Jun 15
Jun 15

Hi Prakriti,

Thanks for sharing this disturbing account of what happens to widows in your country:-( It will be awareness around their plight. Do you work for the association you mentioned, "Women for Human Rights?" I was just curious. It seems like a great cause, if ever there was one.

I will make sure that your story gets included in the current call for stories:
https://www.worldpulse.com/raise-your-voice/international-widows-day

Hope you have a great day, dear.

prakriti sapkota
Jun 15
Jun 15

Hello..I dont work for that association. I just came to know about that from media. Though the status of widow women has changed a bit in few years, the concept and society's view towards them have not changed.
Thank u for adding this in the recent call.
Hope to hear from u soon !!!

Jill Langhus
Jun 16
Jun 16

Hello there:-)

I see. Yes, it's sad, but I think building awareness around it and also women rising up will help speed up the healing process for these women. What do you think?

You're very welcome!

Hope you have a great Sunday!

prakriti sapkota
Jun 16
Jun 16

I totally agree with u.
Thank you

Jill Langhus
Jun 16
Jun 16

Oh, good:-) You're welcome!

Rahmana Karuna
Jun 16
Jun 16

Morning Prakriti,
just read the note you sent me, so i came to read your posts. Looks like you are already writing important stories about important issues. "health" "wellbeing" are interesting words and what do they mean? emotional well being, food, sleep, kind relationships, these are what is important to a person's well being. If we are not emotionally healthy we are not motivated to care for ourselves or others. I encourage you to write write write about your experiences and how people can keep themselves healthy and NOT rely on western medicine which in my opinion is an illness perpetuating corporate greedy industry......... Stories like this are really important. the problem, the background, the solution. great job. good luck w studies in school.

prakriti sapkota
Jun 17
Jun 17

Thank u so much.
Yes, i will write about my
Personal experiences also. Will keep on talking. ☺☺

Olutosin
Jun 17
Jun 17

This reminds me of my mother's story too. She was accused of killing my father. May her soul rest in peace too.
Religion will destroy humanity is care is not taken.
Thanks for sharing. May we be brave enough to stop every evil practice against women.

prakriti sapkota
Jun 17
Jun 17

Thank u so much.
Until and unless our thought and behaviour doesnt change positively, our people and mostly the weak and vulnerable will continue being abused.
Thank u fou ur comment. i am really sorry to hear about ur mother.

Hello, Sister Prakriti,

How cruel it is for a society to treat widows this way. :( Why strip her off of her human rights and dignity when all she needs is comfort and sympathy from losing her husband. It’s unimaginable!

Thank you for sharing this to us. No woman or any human being deserves to be treated that way. Please post this on the Story Awards, the link Jill gave you.

prakriti sapkota
Jun 17
Jun 17

Hello Karen!
Thats what I wonder too. A woman does everything she can for her family, children and husband selflessly till the time she dies. And when she is ill and helpless, instead of supporting her, she is treated badly .
Thank u all sisters for ur support.

You’re welcome, dear sister. I hope this practice will end now. Women have already suffered greatly in many ways. We need love more than judgment.

Keep up the great work! Please continue to write!