Widows wish to meet Modi for welfare law

The widows living in Vrindavan have expressed their desire to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to urge him to enact a law for their welfare and protection in the budget session of the Parliament beginning next month.

On the eve of ‘World Widow Day’, 90-year-old widow from West Bengal Manu Ghosh living in the temple town for the last several decades, hoped that Modi would pay attention towards them.

“We will approach Modiji and our new MP from Mathura Hema Malini and urge them to take measures for the welfare of widows, who have been living in Vrindavan and Varanasi,” she said.

Vrindavan is home to thousands of old widows from West Bengal and their condition used to be pitiable till the Supreme Court intervened.

Sulabh International, an NGO active in the field of low cost sanitation, took up the challenge to ameliorate their plight.

Life of around a thousand widows has remarkably been improved with the intervention of the Supreme Court. The NGO takes care of all such widows living in six government run ashrams in Vrindavan and pays Rs 2,000 to each of them.

Sulabh International founder Bindeshwar Pathak, who has drafted a bill for the protection of widows in the country, would seek an audience with Modi along with the widows from Vrindavan and urge him to push the draft bill for introduction in the coming budget session of the Parliament.

To highlight the inequalities involved, International Widows’ Day on June 23 was officially recognised at a New York-based conference at the UN in 2011.

Some 40 million of the world’s widows live in India and life for these women is particularly hard.

Not only have they lost their husband, but then society turns on them, stamping them out as worthless, undesirable and a burden. Their plight is often invisible, with many people unaware of the injustices taking place.

While eight per cent of women in India are widows, only 2.5 per cent of men are widowers, due to the fact that men usually remarry, says a study.

Widows, who can sometimes be as young as teenagers, cannot remarry and are seen as a financial drain on their families. Some mothers have even been cast out by their own children and forced to live on the streets in abject poverty.

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