So here is the post by Rational Fool on a report on numbers and plight of widows in India.
When I saw it last it did not have so many comments and they may add more flavour to some of you readers. To me or as far as I am concerned, I could not care less about what Manu wrote and thought or Shankarachraya or any other acharya thinks. (clarification: simply because I feel, one- arguing about people or personalities of 1000 years ago does not absolve people's behaviour in current times and two, at least as compared to other religions, Hindu pontiffs by and large do not influence or dictate daily life, diet, dress and impose other dictates or excommunicate offendors. People in the city of Mumbai at least pretty much live life as 'they' wish- 'they' being themselves and their social circle) . The pressures are socio-cultural (more teeth) than religious or legal (less teeth) .
According to the most recent Census, there are 34 million widows in India, and more than half of them are less than 50 years of age. A UNIFEM supported survey of 255 widows in Vrindavan, conducted by the Guild of Service in 2002, reports:
A whopping 39 per cent of the widows interviewed had married below 12 years and 47 per cent between the ages of 12 and 17. Thirty per cent of them had become widows by the age of 24. Two had become widows by the time they were 12. They were married when just 7 and 9 years old respectively.
If we extrapolated from this sample, a third of the 34 million Indian widows — 10 million — would have been widowed by the age of 24, approximately the age when most women in the developed nations even begin to contemplate serious relationships.
That the Widows Remarriage Act of 1856 was no match for the Laws of Manu, is underscored by the fact that 60% of surveyed women have been widows for more than 20 years. More disturbing, 90% of the women were against remarriage. Only 13%, however, said they did not believe in remarriage. 70% attributed their reluctance to remarry to social and religious taboos.
Therefore, what do Anil, Arun, Vinod, Girish, Atul, Srikant and Mili, Suniti, Divya, Shweta and Anuradha think ?
So if you are raising a toast to the women in your life or women in India, add destitute, abandoned women, victims of domestic violence, divorced women and single mothers also to the list with widows in the report. Mix it all up and serve chilled.
Not related to the above topic of widows/single women at all, but while we are on women & women's day, I did catch the 'discussion' on television on the topic of glass ceiling I think it said. (NDTV-Barkha Dutt et. al) . Maybe the summer heat is just making me too lazy to think this through- but really- where does Role Definition stop and Gender Bias begin?
Till I get that fundamental understanding right, anything further I think will also be flawed. Any thoughts welcome. Just for my clarification, if someone can help me here do drop me a comment or mail on this.