Impact of social prejudices on the status of widows: a sociological study on kishoregonj zila.
Statement of the Problem
Widows are oppressed and marginalized from every aspect in society. In other words the status of widows in society is of deprivation, oppression and marginalization. Widows face different barriers from legal religious, customary including barriers o inheritance, land ownership and land use even rule concerning marriage. In a word widows are the most deprived from all aspects of women. They are oppressed also from the basic human rights to shelter, food, clothing, dignity, access to services, and denied full participation in social and community life. In our society there are various kinds of social prejudices which effect widow’s life and their status badly. In every spheres of life widows face many social prejudices. Because of social prejudices widows cannot lead their life freely.
Millions of women suffer due to their widowhood. But it is matter of great regret that they were not the focus of my significant attention during the UN women’s decade. In these conventions they have decided to protect female rights and have decided to inspire women for participation in every activity. In this there was no step strategies to help widowed. Only elderly widowed were mentioned in the Nirobi Forward and Looking Strategies.
In this Conventions it is mentioned for the welfare of
· Urban poor women
· Elderly women
· Young women
· Oppressed women
· Trafficked/kidnapped women
But there is no strategy for widow. The UN Convention on All forms of Discrimination against Women has been used so long to protect widow’s right Widows are the part of total population. (Source: UN Women Decade: Equality Development and Peace- Discussion and Evaluation 1985 15th -26th July; Nirobi Kenya)
So this issue should not be ignored for our greater interest. This issue has serious consequences on our national development. Widow’s poverty, isolation, dependency, powerlessness and destitution have also harsh consequences for their dependents, the community and for society as a whole. So the impact of social prejudices on the status of widows, and their families must be seen not merely as a women’s issue but as a developmental one.
It is believed that widows are old and they are subject of looking after by others. But today with increasing poverty situation, this hypothesis is invalid. There are millions of young and child widows. In many countries they are strongly prohibited to remarry and they face social criticism within the community. Sometimes because of fear of violence in spite of her intention she is not intended to remarry.
Objective of the study
The traditional household has a structure based on male headship and it functions under the male head. Female headed household is not rare or exceptional in our society but widow’s headship in family is really rare or exceptional, though widows are mentionable in our country in comparison with total women. The family which is widow headed that structurally and functionally differs from its male headed counterpart. Because of various kinds of social prejudices in our society widows are treated as isolated group.
The study tried to find out the actual condition of widows in society. In this context the main objectives of the study is to highlight-
· Impact of Social prejudices on the social statues of widows.
· Impact of Social prejudices on the Economic statues of widows.
· Impact of Social prejudices on the Psychological statues of widows.
However, the study has a restricted focus as it will not attempt to cover all the issues related to widowhood. The study observed mainly the above mentioned three characteristics of widows.
Significance of the study
Widows are rarely mentioned in the literature on poverty in society. Nor can it be said that the women’s movement has firmly taken up their course. The social protection of widows in rural Bangladesh is largely unaddressed problem. However the status or situation of widows is changing day by day but the pace of changes is extremely slow. Not all of them suffer from acute deprivation but many do.
The prospect of widowhood reduces the quality of life of most women even if only some of them are actually widowed at any particular point of time. Indeed the average married women in Bangladesh faces on extremely high risk of becoming widow at some stage of her life. Related there is an important connection between widowhood and the social prejudices.
Along the same line of reasoning there may also be a close connection between widowhood and the neglect of female children. Studies in rural Bangladesh suggest that anxiety to have at least one surveying son is much greater among women than among men. They also bring out how women “collaborate” in the preferential treatment of sons vis-à-vis daughters. It would be surprising if these two findings were entirely related.
Further this is a clear link between widowhood and child labors. The absences of adult male in a household most of the time widows are not allowed to work outside because of social prejudices.
Finally it is important to place the issue of widowhood in the context of the women’s movement in Bangladesh. A whole range of patriarchal institutions contribute to the deprivation of widows, including patrilineal inheritance patrilocal residence and the sexual division of labor.
The fact that the special needs of widows have been almost completely ignored by policy makers and social activists in post independent Bangladesh is quite revealing in several ways. First it illustrates the amazing extent to which neglect of female deprivation persists to the present day in spite of countless pronouncements and studies on need to estimate gender inequalities in Bangladesh. Second, the absence of public support for widows also illustrates the common skepticism that exists about the possibility of adopting elementary social security measures at an early stage of development. Third, the unattended problem of poverty among widows sheds some light on the relationship between state action and public action in Bangladesh. While it is clear that it would be hopeless to wait for some paternalistic initiatives of the state to introduce such provisions. The activism of the public and particularly of women will have to play a crucial role n forcing the state to take positive steps in this field. Finally the neglect of widows illustrates the difficulty of bringing issues of endemic deprivation within the scope of media attention and public presume. Here lies the significance of the study. (Source: Widows in Rural India, Jean Dreze)
Methodology means the scientific way of doing research. In social research there are three types of methodology such as:
· Qualitative methodology
· Mix methodology/Triangulation
· Qualitative Methodology
· Qualitative methodology is defined as an inquiry process of understanding a social or human problem.
· Quantitative methodology
According to K.D. Bailey quantitative methodology is a analysis of numerically coded data specifically ordinal, interval and ratio data and often involving computation of statistical measures and tests of significance.
This methodology is the mixture of qualitative and quantitative methodology. It includes both qualitative and quantitative features.
This study is based on qualitative method qualitative method is very useful for doing social research. Doing research about widows and social prejudices method is appropriate. In such situation only intensive field work can reveal true nature of problem. Through qualitative method true reality can be observed and social complexity can also be observed.
This study is based on qualitative method because of some characteristics of qualitative method. The important characteristics of qualitative method are as follows:
Qualitative method is inductive approach.
· It is subjective in nature
· It is an opened approach.
· Ii tries to understand society and social problems.
· It ensures flexibility.
· It saves time and money.
Without interview case study doing research about the impact of social prejudices on the status of widow is not possible.
Selection of the study Area:
For the greater interest of the study the district of kishoregonj was purposively selected. I have self cted three villages of kishoregonj distriet as stady area. The name of three villages is;
To get information about widow the area has been selected considering the following factors:
· Location of the area
· Considerable number of respondent.
· Known person
· Easy way of communication.
· Easy access/permission to approach the widows living in the houses
Primary Source of data:
· To collect data three village of district were selected. A semi Structured interview schedule was formulated in accordance with the study’s objectives, emphasizing the following areas.
· Demographic characteristics of widows, such as age, religion, education and family size;
· Widow’s productive roles in paid employment or otherwise, income and decision making;
· Impact of social prejudices on various status of widow.
Limitations of the Study
Doing research on this topic is not an easy task because of them constraint lack of technical knowledge and sufficient experience on the issue of widowhood. As a result, it is expected that some sort of errors will remain. The specific limitation of this study is as follows:-
· Respondent was not intended to give answer of some touchy questions.
· The Respondents who were victimized by their husband’s relation did no easily answer the question for the fear of further torture.
· As an unknown person the researcher related to the situation primarily in the in law husband had to face a lot of problem to get permission for entrance into the house of middle-upper class.
· Since in rural area I was known to respondent, they feel shy to answer.
· More over time schedule for such an important and pioneering work was short.
Review of Literature
There has been only one study in Bangladesh on widow conducted by Prof. Ishrat Shamim and Khaleda Salauddin. But this study is limited within rural area. On the other hand there are a few studies on female-headed households and indepth case studies depicting the lives of such women, but these studies do not consider the fact that a large majority of female households are widows. Since widow related studies are very limited we can’t understand the real status of widows in Bangladesh society.
Prof. Ishrat Shamim and Khaleda Prof. Ishrat Sluimim and Khalcda Salauddin (1995) in their “Widows in Ruran Bangladesh: Issues and Concerns” has described socio-economic status of widows rural Bangladesh. The status of widows in society is that discrimination, oppression and marginalization. The lower status of widows in our culture reflects their lower status of women through their life cycle. Widows face legal, religious, customary and traditional constraints including barriers to inheritance, land ownership and land use, rule concerning remarriage and degrading and harmful mourning rites. Hence, they are among the most oppressed of all women, often without the basic human rights to shelter, food, clothing, dignity, access to services and are denied full participation in social and community life. The poverty, isolation, dependency, powerlessness and destitution of the widows have serious consequences for their dependents, the community and for society as a whole. Hence, this hitherto neglected group deserves immediate attention from the national, regional and international quarters.
Lynne Brydon and Sylvia Chant (1989) in their The Women in the Third World’ described that women are bound for household production. Rural women work for themselves as well as for their household. It can noticed that rural women while work in agricultural sector for their survival, women in the capitalist society perform the same work for profit which means the work by which rural women in the third world live their lives, western world women are achieving the same status of male with that sort of work. Religious beliefs and traditional laws often create barriers to women’s development for which several development programs cannot be properly implemented. L.Brydon and S.Chant (1989) stated about social status of women from rie religious point of view. L.Brydon and S.Chant (1989) stated that in rural ommunity women have to perform both household and external works, which means they have to play a double role. But time is an important factor as time is limited and they have to finish their works in limited time. So they are having a burden of work. “Women’s work in rural communities thus combines domestic service and productive work, it is often said that rural women must bear a ‘double burden’, working long hours in the firm or in crapped production and then equally long hours child care, cooking, washing and cleaning.
Cain (1981) highlighted the effect of widowhood on the economic status of women in one village of Bangladesh and three villages of India. He pressed on widows who became widows at an early stage in their life cycle, or without any male offspring. He has taken land as a criterion of economic mobility. In comparison with India, he mentioned that in the Bangladesh village widow suffered greater loss of land, he also concluded that all women widowed under unfavourable circumstances were vulnerable to^economic decline.
Khaleda Salahuddin. (1977) while assessing Bangladeshi women’s whole day’s work emphasized on Farouk A. and Ali’s recent survey of rural women’s productive work. In that survey it has been shown that rural women’s productive work vary between 10 to 14 hours a day. It cannot be said that only income can change women’s_ socio-economic position because they do not have the access of expenditure and that is why they cannot spend their money in case of necessity. However, in societies where women have minimal bargaining power, the increase in ‘. -indicator of these shifts. In sub -Saharan-Africa, Day found that ” although women in theory generally have the right to dispose of the product and income from their own economic activities, in practice they often constrained to using them to meet their responsibilities for expenditures… that determined by their husbands or by prevailing male enforce norms” (Day 1992).
Gulati (1994) studied aging and widowhood had prime socio-economic implications. With the increasing of age, economic ability to support has reduced and consequently one became dependent on others for assistance. According to census 1961, 1971and 1981 in India the incidence of widowhood among women of 70 years and above age group is very high, relative to that of men in the same age group
Analyzing National Sample Survey data for the state of Karnataka (1977-78), Drcze (1990) found that households with a widow had lesser per capita expenditure levels than households without a widow. While the difference was not particularly striking if all widow-inclusive households were taken together, some sub-groups within this broad category did appear to experience much higher than average levels of poverty. This applied particularly to households consisting of a widow and her unmarried children, and especially when the eldest son was still quite young.
Mukherjee (1992) in her study of villager’s perceptions of poverty in three villages of West Bengal found that households consisting of a widow living alone or with her unmarried children were commonly perceived as being among the most vulnerable.
Harrison (1993) found that in a traditional society where mortality rates is high, like Bangladesh, many women were died premature widows. Unable to work outside the home, and with little hope of remarriage, widowed women were in an extremely 1 distressed economic situation. Then her only economic security is offspring particularly son. lie therefore contended that surveys in Bangladesh had shown that women’s ideal family size was significantly larger than that of men. As such he opined that their low socio-economic status would have to be substantially improved if their fertility- at present their only road to status and security-had to be reduced.
Khaleda Salahuddin and Prof. Ishrat Shamim (1992) in their study on women in urban informal sector of four slums in Dhaka city found that the widows were the most disadvantaged group. The study revealed that poor female workers in the urban informal sector were mostly push migrants from the rural areas of Bangladesh, who belonged to the landless households. Economic exploitations were high, resulting in long hours, unsatisfactory work conditions and occupational health hazards. One of their case studies revealed the situation of a young widow, Rashida, aged 35, who was a child bride and migrated along with her landless husband to Dhaka in search of a sustainable livelihood. She became a widow when she was 32 years old with three dependent children to look after. The eldest son took to rickshaw pulling and she started to manage a small business from which she earned a meager amount of-Taka 750 a month, for which she had to work as late as nine in the evening. The women headed households, such as Rashida’s, were mainly the result of were the most vulnerable ones among, the poor working women in this sector.
Nilufar Ahmed’s the study has found very high gender differentials in Bangladesh economy, not only in wage rates but also in labor force participation in different occupations and industries. The majority of the male labor force works in agriculture sector (63 percent in 1985-86) and the corresponding figure for female is 11 percent. Majority of female work force are engaged in service (36 percent) and in production sector (47 percent) the Gender differential in occupation was small during 1950-70, while it increase considerably in the 1980s (5 percent in 1951 to 60 percent in 1985-86) as more women become involved as wage labourer in non-agricultural sector. Data showed that of the total agricultural laborers hired, 1.8 percent was women. They worked 1.6 percent of total hours and earned 1.6 percent of total wage.
Organization of the Study
This advanced research monograph is organized into twelve chapters including this introductory chapter. A conceptual frame work of widows is developed in chapter two. Chapter three gives a brief description of the study areas. Chapter four, five, six and seven presents the demographic, social, economic and psychological characteristics of the widows pertaining to age , religion , education, family size, occupation, income and decision making, headship as related to other -single women, widows nature of dependency and living arrangements, properly rights, / marriage practices and other changes in the way of life. Chapter eight indicates some correlates between some social, economic and psychological status. In chapter nine it is presented future plan and recommendations for enhancing status of widows. In chapter ten some case studies are presented. Media coverage and GO, NGOs initiatives are mentioned in chapter eleven. The following chapters are summary of findings policy implications.
Conceptual Frame Work of Widowhood,
Marriage is a central social relationship because on its intrinsic importance and the links it provides lo oilier social acclivities and social networks. The sense of desolation experienced with widowhood is caused by the severe changes in everyday life and oilier associated social roles it entails. The new widow can no longer play the role of confident, lover, housekeeper, or member of a couple and these changes may have far reaching effects one’s style of living and personal identity.
Schuts (1966) has proposed three basic interpersonal needs for which we seek to establish and maintain satisfying social relationship:
· Inclusion; The need to be iccoumcd and lo belong lo share experiences and ideas to feel that the sell is significant and weigh while.
· Affection: The need for intimate emotional attachments. To feel that the sell is lovable the need for nurturance and support and support.
· Control: The need for public esteem in order to feel that the self is competent and responsible.
All three of these needs can be met in the marriage relationship. Certainly companionship and advection are major reasons for marrying and interaction with one’s husband or wife ideally engenders trust, emotional understanding and really access. Control needs can also find an outlet. For one tiling marriage involves a dyad in which one partner may exercise power over another. In a less Machiavellian sense, one can acquire feelings of competence and mutual respect from satisfactory role performance and mutual decision making.
Marriage may assume even more critical importance for older people. Because of commitments and emotional investments, some relationship comes to be viewed as unique fragile, irreplaceable, and nontransferable. In addition older people lose other roles and relationships when children leave home with retirement and limited physical mobility may restrict the range of relationships that provide fulfillment of their interposal needs. Widowhood is therefore a potentially critical aspect of the aging experience.
The Cultural Context of Widowhood
As with all aspects of the aging experience the consequences of widowhood depend on its cultural context, particularly the extent to which being widowed disrupts ones under social network and roles. The degree of disruption can be thought of as a continue. The Hindu suttee tradition, which involves the widows self immolation on the husband’s funeral pyre, may be looked upon as the most “disruptive” and the cultural tradition of widow inheritance in which the lost husband is soon replaced with another man from the same group as the least disruptive. Other cultures, such as tradition India, have an intermediate status role of the widow, resulting in isolation reinforced by special clothing or physical characteristics. The tradition of widows wearing black or a veil for a period of time would fulfill this function. A variety of roles may be assigned to widows. They may be expected to continue the role of wife by tending the grave or by remarrying. Societies in which a high “bride price” is paid may require widows to continue working for the husband’s family who invested so much in her.
Most societies incorporate widows into the extended family in some fashion although status may be lost (Lopata, 1973). Lopata suggests that roles for widows are most restricted in patriarchal societies that institutionalize extensible rights of men over women. Modern societies exercise less control over widows because of the declining importance of the extended family widows, increased independence for women, and greater choice of marital partners and other social relationship; but this often means that widows are also more likely to be isolated. Face economic problems and lack of a widow’s role to replace the wife identity. The lack of expectations and institutionalized structures for widows creates greater freedom but there is also the possibility that many widows will be set adrift both psychologically and socially.
The Personal Consequences of Widowhood
As one might expect widowhood often has negative consequences for older people. For example those who are widowed exhibit higher rates of morality and suicide and rate their health more negatively. Because the spouse role is usually a pervasive aspect of identify. There is likely to be at least short term stress as the widowed person negotiates new roles and identify (George, 1980) one’s spouse is also lost as a source of interpersonal need fulfillment.
We must be careful, however, about overstating the impact of widowhood. Lopata’s (1973) study of widows aged 50 and over in Chicago indicated that lower-lass and black women, compared with more highly educated and white widows, tended to downgrade the wife role. The hardships of lower class life may result in anger directed at the husband and such marriages tend to involve less communication and sharing of activities. It is also true that the lower morale experienced by widows may partly come from things that accompany widowhood rather than widowhood itself. (Morgan 1976)
Widowhood may also have its positive aspects relief may be the predominant feeling for those with unhappy marital histories. Another type of relief may follow the end of a long lingering illness. In addition, many widows mention the independence and release from duties that accompany widowhood, as illustrated by the following comments. “You don’t have to cook if you don’t want to; your time is your own; you can come and go as you want; you don’t have to be home if your husband isn’t there.”
Although most widowed persons attain acceptable and even satisfying levels of adjustments the process may be quite difficult. Lopata (1979) found that 60 percent of her sample of widows require a year or more of getting over their grief barring to be alone and independent and to establish a new life. Lopata (1981) found that husband are idealized as “extremely good, honest, kind tiredly, and warm,” particularly by older widows whites, higher educated persons and widows who attached greater importance to the wife role.
Obviously there are many other problems that may be associated with widowhood. Aged widows comprise a large percentage of the older poverty population and taking on unfamiliar roles always, requires adjustment.
The Social Consequences of Widowhood
Widowhood inevitably results in at least a short term social destruction and the need to fulfill many tasks during an often grief stricken time. The family can be an important source of emotional, social and financial support. Widows turn to relatives especially children, more than to friends for assistance and support. Widows are also emotionally closer to daughters and sons help primarily with financial matters grad and car came. It appears tram Lopata’s study that many exploitation.
Although children and perhaps other relatives can be important sources of support widowed persons are increasingly inclined to live alone. The proportion of the widowed who live alone increased from less than 20 percents 1940 to 50 percent in 1970. The widows in Lopata’s research preferred “intimacy at distance” having been accustomed to running their own homes, they did not wish to become dependent subordinates in someone else’s house. The likelihood of living with relatives does increase after age so however and is great among nonwhites, females lower socio-economic greater groups and those with children.
Many widows had quite limited social activities and supports; more than half reported they hewer went to public places 40 percent never entertained and from 10 to 20 percent could name no one. A part from providing the usual gratification’s of friendships. Friend can help recent widows by keeping them occupied offering sympathy and understanding helping with bereavement and so.
Why would widowhood disrupt social networks? One reason is that accompaniments of widowhood. Such as poor health or poverty have isolating effects. But it is also true that widowhood creates many problems. Widowhood threatens continuation in this “society of couples”. The recent widow may feel like a third wheel or be viewed by wives as a potential revel. Interests and needs may charge and the widow may feel dependent for transportation. The lack of a escort in couple compassionate world may engender a feeling of alienation because of status a feeling of alienation because of status less.
The disruptive effects of widowhood depend upon one’s position in the social structure regarding age and sex pears and social class. For example women over 65 may become involved in a society of widow because widowhood is actually the harm for there, where as younger widows may experience a greater decline in social position. Margin found (1976) that widows had lower morale than married women but older widows catch up with the morale of the married. Widowhood is also less prevalent among males and may therefore, be more social disruptive because it places them in an unusual position.
The social disruption often accompanies widowhood implies that feelings of loneliness may be a particular problem. In Lappet’s (1973) sample of widows 48 percent said that loneliness was this greatest problem. Loneliness involves more than being alone; at involves being without some definite needed relationship on set of relationships “Weiss suggests that two types of isolation may result in feeling of loneliness.
Emotional Isolation: Emotional isolation is the lack of a truly intimate life. It involves separation anxiety and utter aloes that cannot be alleviated by just any alternative social relationship.
Social Isolation:- The widowed are also likely to experience social isolation lack of network of involvement’s with peers which engenders feelings of boredom , aimlessness and marginality.
Actually (1975) found that widows had greater social participation than widows because of the economic supports they possessed. Men have more difficulty adjusting to widowhood than women and enceinte greater social volition because of it. Widowhood is more unusual for men, therefore a society of widowers is not more difficult to achieve.” Widowhood may more after constitute a double below for men who are likely to have already experienced the social disruptions of retirement.
One course of action following widowhood is remarriage. Although this is not widespread phenomenon, and remarriage is less likely following widowhood then following divorce Lopata indicates that few widows expect to remarry. Many do not wish to lose their independence and our concerned about being taken advantage of on hurt again. (Source: Russel A.Ward, The Aging Experience: An Introduction to Social Gerontology)
Profile of the Study Area
Sholakia is a Village of district of Kishoregonj. There is a big canal from north south besides the village. There is a big bill on the south side of the village. There are 80 households in the village and the total number of widows is 9.
Kanikata is a poor village of district of Kishoregonj. The transport and communication system is traditional. Rickshaw is the main means of the transport available of the people. There are 50 households in the village and total number of widows is 6.
Kharampatti is poor village of district of Kishoregonj. The total population of this village is about 400 and the village consists of 35 households. The total number of widows is 10.
Impact of social prejudices on the social economic and psychological status of widow.
Impact of social prejudices on the social status of widow:
When women become widow the other members of the society do not accept her easily. Out of 25 respondent most of the respondent social status is very low. Because of their widowhood they suffer badly. Most of the respondent does not participate in any social occasion because of social prejudices. They do not participate in any social festival. They do not participate in any social occasion not willingly but unwillingly or forcefully. If they go to any marriage ceremony everybody wants to avoid them. Everybody treat them badly. In any marriage ceremony widows are not allowed to touch “bride” or “groom”, mashed”, turmeric etc. Everybody think if any widow touches bride or groom unexpected things will be happened with them. Most of the time majority of the respondent does not get any invitation to participate in any marriage ceremony. They are not allowed to touch any new born baby. They are not allowed to join any birthday party everybody treat them as a symbol of unhappy”. They are not allowed to join the ceremony of Mukhe vat. Other member of the society always criticizes them. Fundamentalists always try to torture widow in the name of religion. Most of the respondent wears worst cloth after becoming widow. They want to wear better cloth but they can’t do it because of social Prejudices. Most of the respondent said that the quality of their daily diet worsened after the death of their husband. They said that quality of their food deteriorated after becoming widow. One of the causes of taking worsened food is the prevalence of social prejudices. Some respondent said that they are not allowed to eat meat, egg, milk, fish etc. Because their family members think that widows need not to eat this good food. The participation of widows in the family decision making after husband’s death is very negligible. Most of the respondent said that everybody treat them as unable to make important decision. Fundamentalists protest widows to participate in making any important decision. Everybody think that widow can’t take any good decision. Sometimes widow faces barriers while going outside the home. Because of various kinds of social prejudice widows become isolated from the society. Their social status is too low.
Impact of Social Prejudices on the Economic Status of widow:
Social Prejudices also affect the economic status of the widow. Most of the respondent said that they do not get their Mohrana. 5 out of 25 respondents said that they received some money from their in laws as Mohrana and thy try to do something with the money of Mohrana. Most of the respondent said faces problem to work outside the home. Some respondent said that they do not get husband’s property after their husband’s death. Widow faces social prejudices in getting property from their in laws. People do not want to give them work because they are widow. Because of social prejudices moat of the respondent’s economic status in too low. Their monthly income is very poor. Many people do not keep them as maid servant because they are poor. Local Moulovi and moulana said that there is no need to go outside home for widow. Some widow earns money by poultry selling, gardening and handicraft. But they face various kinds of social prejudices in doing this work. They do not get enough money by selling various kinds of product. Some widow collects fuel and sells them in local market. Like other women widows do not work freely. They face many problems.
Impact of Social Prejudices on the Psychological Status of widow:
Impact of social prejudices on the psychological status of widow is very shocking for them. Because of various kinds of social prejudices they become mentally depressed. They always feel insecurity. Most of he respondent said that when they became widow nobody support them mentally. Nobody support them to overcome their sorrows and sufferings. Everybody treat them as the symbol of unhappy which is very shocking for them. When they cannot participate in any social occasion and festivals they feel very bad. After their husband’s death most of the respondent becomes lonely. Everybody tries to avoid their company. Even their relatives always try to avoid them. Sometimes to respondents face social prejudices to Perform religious norms and practices. In three study area less widow participate in recreational activities. Because of prohibition of family most of the respondent do not participate in any recreational activities. Local Moulovi Moulanas also prevent them to join in any recreational activities. Because of social prejudices most of the respondent suffers from mental depression. Out of 25 respondents the entire respondent has to wear white share. They do not wear any colorful dress. Because of social prejudices they do not wear any gold ornaments. Their family member prevents them to wear any gold ornaments. They do not use any make up. They do not use any body turmeric. They do not go in front of strangers. Because of social prejudices widow faces various kinds of harassment. Most of the respondents were victim of verbal abuse many respondent faces physical torture. Most of the respondent psychological condition is very bad. Most of the respondents tolerate abuse by their intimate relatives. Some respondent said after the death of their husband their brother in-law tried to rape them.
I have three daughters. My husband was a rickshaw puller. He was died in by an accident. After his death I turned into a new life. Nobody supported me, even my parents, sister and brother also tried to avoid me. My in laws started to torture me. They thought that my husband had died because of me. They treated me as the symbol of sorrow and unhappy. They gave me food in different plate and I do not touch their plate, glass. They always abused me verbally. After the death of my husband no body invite me to join in any occasion. It brings in me a feeling of sorrow when I see the woman of my age is leading their life happily.
I have two daughters and three son. My husband died in 2000. As my husband is no more so I am the guardian of the many do not accept me. After my husband’s death I don’t wear any colorful sharee. I have to wear simple white sharee. It brings in me a feeling of sorrow when I see the woman of my age wear colorful dress. Nobody wants to marry my daughter because I am widow. After my husband death when I tried to give my daughter in marriage I had to face many social constrains.
My husband died leaving a daughter of about 2 years. He was a farmer. Suddenly he was died because of cholera. After his death I found everything new. Nobody supported me socially, psychologically or mentally and economically. My husband was a farmer for this why I had no savings. It was very tough and difficult for me to maintain my family and manage money. Then I took a loan from ASA. With this money I set up a shop in front of my house but I Could not run it for obstruction from society. They said that it is against Islam to run a shop by a widow.
My husband was a mechanic. He died in 1998. I have two son and one daughter. My Joys, happiness go away with the death of my husband. My in-laws do not give me my husband’s property. We the widows deprived us many joys in fear of social prejudices. After my husband death I do not wear any ornament, because society prohibits it for me.
My husband was a Rickshaw puller. He was died in 1999. I have five daughters. After my husband death my in –laws behave with me badly. They Treat me us their maid servant. After my husband death members of my husband family wonted me to go back leaving my daughter. I faces various types of social prejudices in every spheres of my life. I did not participate in making any important decision of my family. My in-laws said I have no right to take decision because I am a widow.
I have one daughter. My husband was a driver. He died in 1995 by an rush accident. After my husband death my in-laws forced me to go back my parents house. But my parents did not want me to live with them. I started to pass my day in my in-laws house and they always torture men. After my husband death I did not take any rich food. I have to eat rice with vegetables. After my husband death Joys of my life is about to die.
My husband died leaving a son of about 10 year. He was a farmer. He died in 2005. After his death I found myself in a great danger. I have lost all supports after my husband’s death Shill now I am facing innumerable problems regarding maintains the household affairs. After my husband’s death my in-laws started to torture me physically and mentally. My father in law abuses me sexually a lot of time. He said that he have right to over me in absence of his brother. After my husband’s death my in lakes eat off my hair. They did not allow me to go outdid home. I have to wear white share. I did not wear any ornament. I take rice and vegetables my food.
There was a conflict between Arifur Rahman and the powerful leaders for the control over market at Sholakia. In this connection he had to lose his life in the hands of terrorists. Locally he was familiar as Kalu Driver.
Kalu driver’s wife Fatema begum was habituated in a middle class life. She had many dreams centering her husband and children. But all these on the 10th February, 1998 ended in smoke in a moment. She heard the ill news when she was at lunch. Darkness permeated all around her. Grief seized her to such an extent that she could not even sob or weep or cry. All sufferings and tribulations took shelter in her bosom. In this stiff situation society did not cast a kind eye to her. Nobody helped her. She had to face the grim reality. She is maintaining all the household affairs.
Everybody in her father’s in law’s household is taking advantage of Fatema’s untimely widowhood. They married her immature daughter Munni to a middle aged man and they said nobody wants to morry a widow’s daughter.
My husband died leaving a daughter of about, 10 months. He was a day labourer he was died in 1988 without any decease. He was quite fit. After his death I turned into a new life. My elder brother in law took major share giving me and my daughter a small number of my husband wealth and properties and inheritance according to Islamic law. After my husband death members of my husband family wanted me to go back leaving my daughter. Because it would help them to occupy my share. But when I did not agree to their proposal they try to find fault with my daughter. When I talk to a man others doubt on my ethic. I have been seldom invited by my neighbors after becoming widow. When my husband was alive we would save money by hardship and bought cows and other domestic things with this saving. But it is a matter of great regret that my daughter and was deprived of this why is happens so?
I have one son and one daughter. My husband died in 1988. It brings in me a feeling of sorrow when I see the woman of my age is leading their life carefully. I have to spend money economically. I have to do all things home and outside. Speak to say, our joys, happiness go away with the death of our husband. We deprived us many joys in fear of social system. At least 10 years. I did not participate any ceremony. Joys of my life is about to die.
Media Coverage of Widows
The issue of widowhood impact of social prejudices and their status is an serious phenomenon at the national level and has attracted press and media attention. Numerous reports on this issue are documented every day. Editorials and sub-editorials in both Bengla and English daily newspapers are often published to raise the awareness of the community and for the policy makers.
The widows are not getting proper justice in every sphere of life. As a minor group they are Victimized. But a few of these are becoming as news in newspaper. However, there is no accurate estimation of the number of injustice of widowhood.
Whatever the truth behind the plethora of figures, government officials and community members admit that incidence of widowhood is increasing alarmingly. Moreover, media coverage of such a issue is only a tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of cases go unreported.
The reports of newspaper could be subdivided into different broad categories depending on the nature and content of the reports such as:
· Study reports
· Prevailing Situation
· Magnitude of the problem
· Initiatives of government
· Regional Initiatives
· Initiatives of International Organization
· Initiatives of NGOs.
Highlights of the Newspaper Reports.
“Hill Widows Welfare Body Seeks Fulfillment of Demands”
She is very worried about her sons. “I low do 1 leach my sons” she grumbled. Manoshi Chakma, 35 has become widow about nine years back. Her husband, Amar bikash akma was a member Village Defence party (VDP), Babuchhara of Dighinala. Former Shantibahini guerrillas thought that Amar Bikash Chakma was a spy of Bangladesh government. One night the Shantibahini rounded up our house and out my husband. Later on the guerrillas shot my husband and resulting in spot death husband, “Manoshi said to the daily star correspondence.
“The incident occurred in 1997. Since then 1 am living in misery” she added. Manosi Chakma disclosed that since then she had no source of income. “No body came to help me. I have no homestead. Now 1 am staying with my sons and passing an inhuman life.”I earn some money by selling local wine” she informed.
Like Manoshi Chakma there are so many widows here who lost their husbands during the time of C11T crisis. Many of them are staying with the mother’s relatives. While visiting to Dighinala thana one widow named Chikonya Chakma 45 said to correspordent that her husband Bindu Chakma had worked at house of Bibak Chakma, former member of Local Government Council,Khagrachhari. One night the Shantibahini came near Bibakanda’s house to kill him and opened lire. But Bibakananda Chakma escaped the fire while my husband was killed on the spot” Chikonya Chakma said.
She said that she had been passing a sub-human life for a long time with her four daughters. I have no source of income even a homestead. Now 1 is staying .at, placc of Boughda Bihar at Baradam of Diginala. Another widow Kalorani 36 said after the attempt of killing ofBibekananda Chakma my husband Pagana Chakma, was .beaten to death allegly by the army personnel. This is because the arme personnel thought my husband was a spy of Shantibahini men.
Later on (he army personnel gave Tier faku .six thousand for cremation of her dead husband. They also assured me that they would give backing for my sons teaching up to Secondary School Certificate (SSC) level. Hut they did not keep their assurance she added. Her husband was killed in 1989.
Maya Rani’s husband was a member of Shanlihahini. Her husband died in a gun battle of two rival groups of Slianlihahini in 1982. At dial lime Shanlibahini was divided into two groups Lamba (Larma) and Hatty a (Prill).
Maya Rani Chakma said lo lliis correspoiulent that ik.t Imsband was u supporter of Larma group. “I met SliaiUu Larma about three month bock. He only gave me an assurance of help” she said.
Shashi Ram Chakma. 40 one more \vidow said her husband, Hatya Chakma was killed by the settlers in 1986 when escaping for India. She said to this correspondent showing her one blind eye which the settlers had destroyed. She said that she could not teach her sons due to lack of fund 1 also handed over one of my sons to another person to become a cowboy.
There is no accurate number of widows who lost their husbands during the time of CUT crisis. But it is true that a large number of widows had been passing very hard days. Women from both the communities including tribals and non-lribals lost their husbands during CHT crisis.
Meanwhile, a committee comprising 11 numbers was formed recently to coordinate the widows. The name of (he committee is Mill Widows Wel-fare Association. The leaders of the committee recently held a general meeting with Biskaka Chakma in the chair. Spcakcrs at (he meeting discussed’ with grief that despite signing of the peace accord between (he government and PCJSS the matter of rehabilitation of the war widows remained neglected.
They said “we are now living from hand to mouth”. We need food, cloths, and education for our helpless and rootless children. The association is now collecting all the names of such widows who lost their husbands during CHT crisis. According to the association source, the present number of widows of tribals and non-tribals is 506.
The leaders of the association recently handed over for memorandas to the prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the Jatiya Sangsad, Minister for the CHT affairs, and Chairman of the Regional Council (RC) where they demanded implementation of six demands of widows.
The six-point demands include: Granting of 40 lakh taka for setting up to a handloom industry, donation of 50 thousand taka for each affected family, employment opportunity for widows children, grant for education of widows children and settlement of five acres of khas land for each member. (Source “The Daily Star 20.06.1999).
Women belonging to the widowed, divorced and separated groups constituting 15 percent of the total population are left alone to look after themselves and dependents.
Of the total sample, 48.58 percent respondents stated that they receive benefits at all through NGO programmes, revealed the study adding that percent felt they received “very little benefit”, while 27.82 percent said they been to some extent and 6.13 percent observed that they benefited, “to a great extent”.
About obstacles faced by the respondents in carrying on productive active the study revealed that 58 percent of the respondents mentioned about the small of the initial loan amount while 34 percent of them complained about the pre brought to bear on the loaners by the NGOs for repaying loans.
“It is necessary for the NGOs to devise effective monitoring and follow strategies to keep track of how the beneficiary loaners utilize the loan,” the suggested. It observed that the NGOs loaners were left to their individual choices a what activity to select as long as they can some incomes and repay the loans. C1 alone is not enough if the sustainability of development is to be achieved, the stremarked. (Source The Daily Star 22.5 97)
“How Are the Widow Women Of Rural Bangladesh”
The word ‘Bewa means widow. It was generally used to the last of a widow named by the village people. Yet it is in usage in some villages of Bangladesh. Originally several customs and manners was brought in practice from time to time separate the widows in society. Such as a widow shall not use any ornaments. She wears white clothes. She is unexpected in beneficial festivals and forbidden talk others etc.
Besides one of the main problems of Muslim widows get small share in the property left according to inheritance law, and it weakened the widow economically. If a widow has no single son her close neighbors and surrounding get the opportunities. They try to occupy her property and wealth little by little. After the death of husband a widow comes down as triangular composition. Firstly she has to ensure the security of her issues, make them competent through education. Secondly she has to look after things leaving her husband. Thirdly she has to cook and do domestic work. To prefer this work properly she has to move outside even to the thana Sadar. And by this various flattering works are spread in society about a widow.
So it may say that an woman’s desire and wish dies with the death of her husband.
It is true that the attitude towards women of town is changing but what is the attitude towards the widows who live in villages? “Nari Mance” has discussed with village widows about it. The following answer was given by them.
“I set up a shop. But I could not run it.”
My husband died after 2 years of our independent. As share which I get we could not lead our life on it. At that time many obstructions was provided in society on widows. To live a better then I set up a shop but I could not run it for obstruction from society. They said it is degrease full to run a shop by woman. I was compelled to hear him about, 10 years. And for this I could not remove out my wanting. But at last finding no way once I took courage and started shop again. Overlooking their obstructions. Now I am better with my son and his family. Man only critter us but nothing to solve our basic problems. (Source The Daily Prothom-Alo 18.10.2000)
Government Policy Regarding Widows
It is not a hard task to identify the top-most poor, helpless and neglected groups among the people of Bangladesh. I very social conscious person knows who are landless, have not and not capable lo do work due to old age, they are the higher degree of poverty stricken group among the people of Bangladesh. The condition of women among these poor people are very distressed and piteous. Tradition of the family to protect and to take care about older member is becoming very weak gradually due to social evaluations and changed values. Under this circumstance, the older persons who are passing their evening time of life in the clutch of poverty, is most essential to pay them special allowance from the social view point.
‘This is true, the revenue income of the government is limited and her duties and responsibilities are versatile and wide spread. In view of the state, government has taken a decision to give old age allowance every 10 top most poorest older persons of each wards of all union councils of the country.
Beside this scheme Government has implemented another decision of distressed women allowance scheme only for widows and abandoned women by husbands women allowance scheme only for widows and abandoned women by husbands from 1998 beside old-age allowance scheme. Rules and regulation for the distressed women allowance disbursement has been approved in the cabinet meeting of ministries on 13.09.99.
Summary of Findings
It is generally known that in Bangladesh, the number of widows is becoming increasingly acute because of the high mortality and immature death of male household heads. In our country there are many social prejudices that effect the life and status of widows badly. Widow faces social prejudices in every spheres of their life. Because of social prejudices their social economic and psychological status is too law.
Widows are the most unfortunate and the rest of their lives are destined to suffer. It seemed vulnerability is a consequence of particular socio-economic process. In fact during widowhood vulnerability appears because of poverty. After becoming widow women cannot adapt themselves because they have no access to property, production, decision making even to remarriage etc.
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· 1995 Studies Dhaka.
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