So a salient feature of Indian family values involves all women having to Get Married and Stay Married – so that they are ‘looked after’, when they are young and in their old age?
Then why is widow remarriage seen as against Indian Family values? Obviously welfare of women and children is not a concern in a Patriarchy.
When Jyoti Yadav was born, her mother was 17 and a widow. Seen as inauspicious, her mother was not permitted to participate in celebrations, weddings and other happy occasions. Jyoti, a class eight student, grew up in an extended family in Alwar, Dabadwas , Rajasthan. [Link shared by Anil Singhal]
She saw the humiliation and disrespect heaped on her mother but was too young to know how to bring about a change. So, she approached the head teacher in her school, Sangeeta Yadav, and found out more about the plight of widows in India. Knowing that she needed more support from authorities, she approached the sarpanch of her village, Bhagwati Devi. Hearing her concerns, Devi was enthused enough to convene meetings to rid the village of this age-old custom.
In 2010, Jyoti started campaigning for this cause. She went from house to house trying to convince people to change their attitude towards widows.
“Initially, nobody listened to me as I was so small. Often , I would be thrown out. But I didn’t lose courage and went right back. I also used to do nukkad nataks (street plays) with 4-5 friends as taught by my teachers. Eventually, the elders decided to give me a hearing but I had to face quite a bit of opposition, especially from the men. They couldn’t digest that a girl was breaking their customs and would beat us up,” she says. But that hardly mattered. Jyoti says with practiced ease, “Log tho aise hi hai” (People are like that only). If it helps improve society, I don’t mind.” Her efforts finally paid off. Widows, like her mother, are now employed as anganwadi workers and are paid Rs 3,500 monthly. [link, link]