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Widows urge for law against harassment

Widows abandoned by their families in Vrindavan, Varanasi and other parts of India on Monday demanded that the government bring a bill for their protection.

The widows, some of whom were present at a function to release a book “India’s Abandoned Mothers: The Widows of Banaras and Vrindavan” said they suffered hardship in the absence of any form of economic protection.

Releasing the book written by journalist Shivnath Jha and his wife Neena Jha, Sulabh International founder Bindeshwar Pathak said the NGO was consulting lawyers and experts to press the government to pass a bill for widows who have been shunned by their families.

“The bill will seek to establish a board for the welfare of the neglected, abandoned and destitute women. Our primary concern is to change the mindset, behaviour and attitude of the people and their family members towards the widows,” Pathak said.

He said the widows faced humiliation and insults from their families as well as society which often treated widowhood as “inauspicious”.

He said it was the foremost duty of the government to initiate measures to protect abandoned widows and provide them maintenance so that they can live with dignity.

Sulabh International has adopted more than 2,000 widows of Vrindavan and Varanasi and earthquake-affected parts of Uttarakhand.

Pathak said most of the women survive on tea and biscuits and some snacks only.

“Majority of them are suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes and other health problems,” he said.

Jha said there were more than four dozen laws for women but not a single one specifically for widows. The book is a pictorial representation of the life of the widows.

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