[Reader-list] farmers widow state and patriarchy

Asit Das asit1917 at gmail.com
Tue Apr 8 04:11:44 CDT 2014

Farmers' widows: Forgotten by state, neglected by society
NO RESPITE The women from Amravati's Teosa taluka are forced to battle
patriarchal mindset, financial issues

SAAVLA VILLAGE, (AMRAVATI): The block development officer (BDO) in
Amravati's Teosa taluka had promised to help Bhavnatai Patil (name changed)
get compensation for her husband's suicide. Hence, when she went to meet
him at his office the next time, she did not suspect anything to be amiss.
But minutes after she reached, he allegedly forced himself on her. She
fought back and hit him before escaping.
ANSHUMAN POYREKAR/HT PHOTOSIn Amravati's suicide-ridden villages, tales
abound of the suffering inflicted on the widows of farmers who have killed
themselves because of the agrarian crisis in the region.

While candidates from national parties in the district slug it out ahead of
the April 10 polls in suicide-hit villages in the state, farmers' widows
continue their battles.

In Amravati's villages, tales abound of the suffering inflicted on the
widows of farmers who have killed themselves because of the agrarian crisis
in the region. Stuck between a state that is apathetic to their plight and
a society that is insensitive to their emotional needs, these widows often
end up fighting several battles.

According to Aarti Bais from the Apeksha Homeo Society, who works
extensively with such widows, it is worse for those widowed in their 20s.
Fearing society's reaction if they remarried, these women seldom seek

"After the husband's death, they cannot forge new relationships with men.
Even if they make friends with other women, they cannot share everything
since they all belong to the same village."

Many face harassment from those they confide in, like the inlaws. "Young
widows have often been sexually exploited by the father-in-law or the
brother-inlaw. Often, their maternal families refuse to take them back, so
they have nowhere to go," says Bais.

Bais adds that many men in the village change the way they look at a young
widowed woman. "There are deliberate transgressions when they speak to her.
She is also subjected to intense scrutiny by the village. Each step she
takes attracts close attention."

A patriarchal mindset isn't the only obstacle. Often, insensitive
authorities cause serious financial problems. After her husband Sanjay
killed himself by consuming poison, Sangeeta Dodke, 33, who got married at
20, had to take charge of the house. Even though the suicide was three
years ago, she is yet to receive compensation for it. She saw a ray of hope
with Sanjay's insurance policy. But she has to submit his body's
post-mortem report to claim the money. The local police, however, claim
they can't find it.

Gajanan Kale, another member of the Apeksha Homeo Society, says such roles
are tough for women who have never stepped out of their homes. "When faced
with extreme situations, they break down."

But in Saavla most widows are stoic. "At first, they depend on authorities
for help. But when it doesn't come, they realise the need to move beyond
the tragedy and take charge of their life," said Kale.

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