Widows in Braj well fed: Report

Monday, November 29, 2010

NEW DELHI - They are not well off financially and many don’t have access to basic amenities like toilets, but most widows in the temple towns in Uttar Pradesh’s Braj region are quite well fed and have “no chance of starvation”, said a report Monday.

The report, “Dimensions of Deprivation: Study on the Poverty Levels of Widows”, said that nearly 72 percent of the 500 widows interviewed, ate a balanced meal of rice, chapati, dal and vegetables thrice a day. The rest had meals twice a day.

The report which has been put together by voluntary organisation Guild of Service with the support of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (Unifem), studied the condition of widows in Uttar Pradesh’s Vrindavan, Radhakund, Govardhan, Gokul and Barsana towns.

The report found that 83 percent of the widows earned between Rs.200-1,000 a month from various sources like charity, pension, tailoring and candle making. Most of the money was spent on food, medicines, rent, clothes and prayers.

They hardly get any help from their families, said the report released Monday.

One of the biggest problems that the widows faced, the study found, was that of sanitation. About 40 percent of the widows said that they have no access to toilets.

“In fact 40 percent squatted in open fields and about 14 percent of the widows squatted over street drains to relieve themselves. Though most widows did have water to wash themselves after using the toilet, just 68 percent have soap to clean their hands,” the report said.

An interesting finding of the study was that most widows were found to be veering away from traditional beliefs in terms of what widows should wear and eat.

“They don’t believe in tonsuring their heads and some of the younger widows seem open to the idea of remarriage although most don’t say it openly,” the study said.

The study found that a chunk of the widows - 66 percent - were married before they reached the age of 15. About 26 percent were married between the age of 15-17 and only 5.5 percent were above the age of 18 at the time of marriage.

Filed under: Religion

will not be displayed