SRINAGAR: Over 90 percent widows in Kashmir chose not to marry and spend their lives bringing up their children, says a study. Only eight percent widows have remarried while 92 percent denounce second marriage.
According to a study conducted by Sociologist, Prof B.A.Dabla on 700 widows, only countable number of widow population in Kashmir has remarried. The majority of widows include those who lost their husbands to conflict.
The population of widows has drastically increased due to 23 year long conflict. Our study showed that a very less number of them have remarried, said Prof Dabla.
He said that the widows prefer not to marry because of their children.
These widows fear that if they remarry, their children may not be given a good treatment. They prefer to bring up their children singly.
The study reveals, 85 percent of the widows support their orphaned children. The widows on average supported three-five children.
Most of the widows are being supported by their relatives, neighbours and NGOs.
Only 13 percent widows go out to earn after the death of their husbands.
Fifty three per cent widows live independently or separately while 31 percent had to shift from their in-laws place after the death of their husbands.
Eighteen percent of the widows were living with in-laws while 16 per cent returned to their parents.
The major sources of monetary support to the widows include government relief, parent support, brother’s support, in-laws support, children’s support, part time business, handicrafts, husband’s leftover money, husband’s salary/pension and agriculture activities. The two major sources of support for non-earning widows are parental families (57 per cent) and ex-husband’s families (41 percent). The other major sources of financial support for the widows include relatives and individuals (33 per cent), government organizations (33.66 per cent) and NGOs (7.33 per cent) with 25 per cent availing no support from anybody.
The support usually came to the widows after two or more years of their husband’s death and in 81 per cent cases, the support was not regular.
As per the financial requirement of widows is concerned, 46 per cent of the widows need an amount ranging between Rs 2000 to Rs 5000 per month for their family expenditure, 33 per cent needed between Rs 5000 to Rs 10,000 for the same period.
However, amid difficulties and hardship, the study shows priority being given to the education of the children by widows. Irrespective of the economic status, these women strive hard to educate their orphan children.
Besides the factors laid down by the study for the widow remarriage, social unacceptability is believed to restrict widows for remarriage in Kashmir.
Marrying a widow is traditionally considered a taboo. Nobody is ready to take the responsibility of a woman with children, said Prof Dabla.
He added that women commonly sacrifice their own lives for the sake of their children and chose not to remarry.
Social activist, Nighat Pandit says widows are unable to remarry because they are not socially unacceptable. Concern for children is another reason limiting widow remarriage in Kashmir, she adds
We see that men in Kashmir get married with women from other states. They pay for it. But they would not marry a widow from Kashmir. Men are not ready to marry a widow and accept her children too, Nighat said.
She says that widows are concerned about the upbringing of their children and the lack of trust keeps them from remarriage.
They fear remarriage because they cannot leave their children and get married. And if married, they do not know how the stepfather would treat them. Additional, after having suffered in marriage, some women do not trust a second martial relation, comments Nighat Pandit.
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