Here’s what I think.
Traditionally elder care for Indian men was provided by their wives who were frequently 12 – 20 years younger than the husband. To ensure there was no neglect in care, the wife was allowed certain privileges (basic rights) only as long as the husband lived. These ‘privileges’ included a social life; some kinds of foods (eaten after the husband and his family had eaten); permission to participate in festivities and prayers for the husband’s and sons’ long lives; respect (some conditions applied); symbols of suhaag etc.
But who looked after the wife once the husband died, specially since women live longer and,
At the age of 80 years and above, 71 per cent of women and only 29 per cent of men have lost their spouse.
Here are some more points from, The feminisation of old age.
1. The predicament of elderly women is aggravated by a life time of gender-based discrimination.
2. Social mores inhibit women from re-marrying, resulting in an increased likelihood of women ending up alone.
3. The life of a widow is riddled with stringent moral codes, with integral rights relinquished and liberties circumvented.
5. Ageing women are more likely to get excluded from social security schemes due to lower literacy and awareness levels.
And a lot of it could change if Indians stop seeing women as paraya dhan. Once parents start valuing their girl-children, so would the society. And if the society respects women, we would take women’s happiness, safety, self reliance and general well-being seriously.
Then, maybe these surveys would find a mention of senior citizens who only have girl children.
“There is a common belief that only daughters-in-law abuse elders. On the contrary, 56 percent of those surveyed felt it was their sons who abuse them; daughters-in-law scored as low as 23 percent,” Mathew Cherian, chief executive of HelpAge India, told IANS. [link]
What about the daughters?