Plight of a widow

Editor: Soumya Sinha

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Widows are vulnerable to poverty, ill health and sexual violence. Widows are vulnerable to poverty, especially when they are the sole breadwinners.

They may lose their jobs and become dependent on their children or other family members for financial support. If a widow’s husband was the sole earner in the household, they will find it difficult to get another job because of the discrimination that widows face in society.

A study by Action Aid found that only one-third of Indian women surveyed were able to continue working after widowhood because of discrimination and a lack of skilled training. In addition, widowhood increases the vulnerability of poor elderly people who live alone in developing countries where there is no social security system or pension scheme available.

Many older people also have chronic diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes, which can lead to further health problems if not detected early on through regular check-ups at hospitals or clinics within their community such as those run by charities like Age UK which provides help and advice about how to best care for yourself if you have any conditions linked with age, like dementia.” 

You might think that sexual exploitation is a problem for women in other countries, or people living in poverty, but it is not limited to them. Women are vulnerable to exploitation by those who offer protection in return for sexual favours. They can be forced to offer sexual favours as a condition of receiving food, shelter, and/or protection from violence. Many women become desperate enough to accept this kind of arrangement because it is better than the alternatives: being out on their own with no one else to depend upon; going hungry; ending up homeless or having no place at all to sleep at night. 

Widowhood is a contributor to child malnutrition, resulting from the loss of income after a spouse’s death; often left with no income at all. This can lead to malnutrition, which, in turn, leads to stunted growth and lower economic output. Society does not protect the economic interests of widows, especially in conflict-prone countries.

This, it becomes imperative for these nations to focus on their empowerment. Widows are often the most vulnerable group in society, as they face multiple kinds of discrimination and exclusion. Their physical security and rights are not protected by law, as they are often seen as properties of their husbands or fathers-in-law.

They have no access to inheritance and land ownership even when they do have a legal right to inherit from their deceased relatives.

As a result, many widows are compelled to rely on remittances from relatives abroad for survival due to the limited availability of employment opportunities locally and lack of access to financial services at home.

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Writer : Sakshi Mane


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