Stela’s Story.

Stella Marr was a prostitute in New York City for almost ten years. Then a London-based Oxford professor gave her a grand piano, a beautiful condominium across from Lincoln Center, and kept her for nearly two years. She sold the condo, using the money to finish her BA at Barnard College, Columbia University where she studied extensively with Kenneth Koch. She graduated with distinction, majoring in writing. She’s deep into a memoir about these experiences.

Stella’s Story

An Ex-Hooker’s letter to her Younger Self

Dear twenty-year old Stella,

Work hard on learning to ask for help. It’s the only way you’ll ever break free. No one ever does anything alone. You don’t have to.

You’ll learn how to make the men happy. The happier they are the nicer they treat you. You’ll get very good at being a hooker. But when the Johns say “baby you were born for this” that doesn’t mean its true.

Now when most men come near you feel a stabbing at your eyes, your throat, and your gut that you know isn’t real. You don’t want to admit it but you’re terrified. You start, you tremble. Your hands shake. Think about it, you’re being stabbed a lot these days. This is a quite reasonable reaction to being used by man after man, day after day, in this prison of a brothel. It doesn’t mean you are so miserably flawed that you can’t do anything but be a hooker.

Being a hooker doesn’t make you subhuman. It’s not OK for your (white) pimps to smack you and tell you they’ll kill you.

You have to work up the nerve to pay a cashier for a soda. You’re too scared to ask that guy behind the deli counter to make you a sandwich. This isn’t weakness, it’s biology. Trauma changes your brain. Your hippocampus, where you form narrative memory in the brain, shrinks. This is a symptom of PTSD – a neurophysiologic response to repetitive trauma –not evidence that you deserve to be in prostitution.

In the middle of the winter in the middle of the night when that guy in the Double tree suite invites you to sit while he pours you a seltzer trust your gut and back out of there before the five guys you can’t see who are waiting in the bedroom have a chance to get between you and the door.

Being vulnerable means you’re alive. There’s no shame in it. It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person. You don’t have to apologize for doing what you must to survive.

When Samantha tries to stop working for your pimp Johnny. make her get out of the city. Otherwise two weeks later Nicole, the madam who works with Johnny, will show you Samantha’s diamond initial ring and tell you Johnny murdered her. Though you’ll always hope she was lying, you doubt it.

You’ve lost all sense of the linear — time disappeared and you felt it leave. Now you’re living in the immediate and eternity. It’s scary and bewildering, but you need this — you need each moment to stretch infinitely so that you can be acutely aware of each man’s tiny movements and shifts in expression, which can reveal a threat before it happens. This hyperawareness will save your life. One day you’ll see this being untethered from time as a kind of grace.

When that shiny classical pianist you meet at Au Bon Pain says he wants to know everything about you don’t believe him.

A lot of what’s happening doesn’t make sense now but it will later. That habit you have of writing poems in your mind to the beloved you haven’t met yet as you’re riding in cabs to calls? There’s something to it.

Your ability to perceive beauty is part of your resilience and survival. When a man is on top of you watch the wind-swirled leaves out his window. Seize the gusty joy you feel as you run three blocks to a bodega to buy condoms between calls at 3 AM. When you think for a minute you see that friend, who’s death you never got over, standing in the brassy light under a weeping linden, be grateful. All this has a purpose.

Being a hooker can seem to mean you’ve lost everything you hoped to be, but that’s not true. You’ve splintered into a million pieces, but you’re still you. You’re alive. It’s in the spaces between those pieces where you learn to feel how other people are feeling. It hurts so much you’re sure it’ll kill you, but it won’t. Later when you’re out of the life it’ll be so easy to be happy. The mundane will buoy you.

When your madam sends you to the Parker Meridien at 3 AM and you meet a British professor who says he wants to help you, believe him. He will set you up in a beautiful condominium across from Lincoln Center that he deeds in your name. Of course you’ll have everything to do with this — you are so “good” at being a hooker, so “good” at fucking that you can make a guy want to buy you a condo. Shame is a hollow stone in the throat.

During the two years that this voracious man ‘keeps’ you as his private prostitute the condo will come to feel like a platinum trap. But it’s still your chance to get out and heal. Take it.

After you’ve sold the condominium and are living in a graduate dorm at Columbia University, a man with eyes like blue shattered glass will sit beside you in the cafeteria. When he begins to speak you know he’s the unmet beloved you’ve been writing poems to all these years. You’ll try to run away, but he won’t let you. Fourteen years later the two of you will be hiking through pink granite outcroppings with your Labrador retriever. You’ll feel like the freest woman in the world.

One afternoon when you’re twenty-one you’ll be at the Museum of Metropolitan of Art with your best friend Gabriel, who’s a hustler, a male prostitute. When he says you ‘remind him of his death’, don’t lash back. Even though he told you the doctor said he didn’t have that rare new virus named AIDS, it would behoove you to realize he’s still coughing.

Stop thinking about your own hurt. Don’t lash back with that vicious phrase your mother’s said to you so many times –” I hope you die a slow death.” Don’t tell Gabriel you never want to see him again and storm out of the sculpture gallery. Or it will be the last time you see him. Gabriel will die of AIDS five months later. When he said you reminded him of ‘his own death’ he was trying to tell you he was dying. You’ll regret what you said for the rest of your life. But even more you’ll regret running away from his friendship.

Say forgive me.

Say I love you.

Stay connected.

Love,

Stella

Stella’s opinion on legal brothels.

Well-meaning people who’ve never been commercially sexually exploited often think that legal brothels will protect the women in prostitution from pimps and violent johns. They are mistaken.

In the 10 years I worked in New York City’s sex industry, where the pimps were part of organized crime and could follow through on any threat, I met many women who’d experienced Nevada’s legal brothels. They all preferred the New York sex industry.

If we legalize brothel and escort service pimping we’ll only be giving these predators more power, while we help them protect their cash.

Women who worked in Nevada’s legal brothels said they were like prisons where you have to turn tricks. Rimmed with high-security fencing and an electronic gate, they can look like a detention camp. The women live in lockdown conditions and can’t leave the premises unless they’re accompanied by a male pimp. Living and working in cramped, dark rooms, they’re on call 24 hours a day. This is what happens when the law protects people who profit from commercial sexual exploitation. It’s the ideal business model. It’s the best way to get a woman to turn as many tricks as possible.

Most of the women I knew in the brothels and escort services, had a history of trauma and abuse. I was homeless at the time I entered the life and, had multiple sclerosis. That vulnerability makes them even more easily victimized by pimps. And pimps don’t stop being pimps when you legalize what they do. If we legalize brothels we’ll only be giving these predators more power, while we help them protect their cash.

As the prostitution survivor and activist Natasha Falle has said, “Where there’s high-track prostitutes, escorts, strippers and masseuses; there’s pimp violence.”

Stella says, ‘Never again will I be silenced. They tore out my tongue but I learned to regrow it. Now I will always speak.’

Bravo Stella!

The male dominated world was against women’s education


Kalighat Painting, “Woman Striking Man With Broom,” Calcutta, India, 1875


Kalighat Painting, Role changed. Man is nursing his wife. Calcutta, India. 1875

These are famous Kalighat paintings.

Once upon a time women did not have the right to get an education. Male-dominated world prevented women from becoming educated.

Women in Bengal got the right to education in the nineteenth century. Most men were scared, stressed and unhappy. Newspapers and magazines started publishing satirical cartoons against women’s education. Almost everybody feared that after getting an education women would not accept men as their masters. Social norms will be ridiculously upside down. Instead of a husband beating his wife, a wife will start beating her husband. Wives will go to schools, colleges, and offices, husbands will stay at home and take care of their wives. The social roles of men and women will be reversed forever.

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Violence against women by male intimate partners

”Each culture has its sayings and songs about the importance of home, and the comfort and security to be found there. Yet for many women, home is a place of pain and humiliation.”

‘Violence against women is both a consequence and a cause of gender inequality.’

NCADV says, ‘Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime.’

WHO says ‘Violence against women has a far deeper impact than the immediate harm caused. It has devastating consequences for the women who experience it, and a traumatic effect on those who witness it, particularly children. It shames states that fail to prevent it and societies that tolerate it. Violence against women is a violation of basic human rights that must be eliminated through political will, and by legal and civil action in all sectors of society.’

1 in 4 women experience domestic violence over their lifetimes.

Different research organizations’ reports: ‘In the USA, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence if presented with a breakup.Every 9 seconds in the USA a woman is assaulted or beaten. Everyday in the USA, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

In the USA, 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. 85% of domestic violence victims are women. Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew. Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.’

‘In the USA, Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner. 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder. Less than one-fifth of victims reporting an injury from intimate partner violence sought medical treatment following the injury. Intimate partner violence results in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year.

The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health services.Victims of intimate partner violence lost almost 8 million days of paid work because of the violence perpetrated against them by current or former husbands, boyfriends and dates. This loss is the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity as a result of violence. There are 16,800 homicides and $2.2 million (medically treated) injuries due to intimate partner violence annually, which costs $37 billion. Domestic violence is one of the most chronically underreported crimes. Only approximately one-quarter of all physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalkings perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police.’

‘Partner violence accounts for a high proportion of homicides of women internationally: between 40% – 70% of female murder victims (depending on the country) were killed by their partners/former partners.Domestic violence is internationally acknowledged to be one of the health inequalities affecting women particularly, and forms a significant obstacle to their receiving effective health care. Violence against women has serious consequences for their physical and mental health, and women who have experienced abuse from her partner may suffer from or chronic health problems of various kinds. Abused women are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety,psychosomatic systems, eating problems and sexual dysfunction. Violence may also affect their reproductive health. Violence has indirect effects on the society. It represents a drain on the economically productive workforce and generates a climate of fear and insecurity.’

Now the question is how can violence against women by male intimate partners be stopped?
There are two solutions.1.simple. 2.non-simple.
Non-simple
1.Educate men, empower women.
2.Seek support from family, friends, doctors and community legal centers. Seek protection from the police and the legal system.
3. Women should have access to housing, jobs, and economic supports for their families.These benefits and supports will remove barriers that keep many women trapped in abusive relationships.
3.Leave the abusive relationship NOW. etc.

Simple
Men decide to stop violence against women and they stop violence against women.

I prefer the simple one.

Shame on women!

Even educated women still practice various customs, cultures and traditions that are anti-women.

Mangalsutra
A woman wears Mangalsutra, a black beads necklace, for her husband’s health and well-being. Would a man wear a Mangalsutra for his wife’s health and well-being? Hell no!

Sindoor

Married women wear vermilion or Sindoor on the forehead and along the hair parting line. The Sindoor symbolizes the deep respect, devotion and dedication of a Hindu woman to her husband. Would a married man wear Sindoor on his forehead for the same purpose? Hell no!

Sankha Pola Loha

Married women wear bangles: Sankha, Pola and Loha for husband’s health. Did a man ever wear Sankha, Pola, or Loha for his wife’s health? Hell no!

Bhai Phota

‘Bhai Phota’ is performed by women. They fast and put an auspicious mark with sandal wood paste on their brothers’ foreheads, feed them sweets, give them gifts and pray for their health, happiness and prosperity. Is there a system that a man also fast and put an auspicious mark on his sister’s forehead and pray for her health, happiness and prosperity? Hell no!


Karwa Chauth

People still believe that abstaining from meals, or fasting, can prolong the life of a loved one. Women fast for 24 hours to ensure that their husbands live long lives. Do men do the same for their wives? Hell no!

Touching husband’s feet

A woman bows her head, touches her husband’s feet, takes the dust from the feet and put them on her head on her wedding day to show her submission to her husband. Would a man ever do this? Hell no!

Jamai Sasthi or Son-in-law Day

Jamai Sasthi ritual is celebrated for health and well-being of son-in-law. The son-in-law is invited to a grand celebration in the house of his in-laws. He is served delicious food. Is it possible to have a similar celebration for health and well-being of daughter-in-law? Hell no!

There are hundreds of anti-women rituals that Hindu women perform without questioning. It is alarming that women still perform these rituals in the 21st century. Throughout history sane people have made many misogynistic cultures go extinct. But in some countries, patriarchal traditions are celebrated more ceremoniously than ever. You may say only illiterate women do it, women’s education will solve all the problems. But the truth is, educated women perform anti-women patriarchal rituals more perfectly than illiterate women, because educated women have better learning capacity. They learn every small details of patriarchy that illiterate women can not learn.

Who will fight misogynistic tradition if modern women remain busy practicing it? A few reformist men in the 19th century fought for abolishing Suttee (widow burning), for women’s education, and for widows’ remarriage. In the 21st century, a new set of enlightened revolutionary men is probably needed to save women from the darkness.

Is Female Genital Mutilation only practiced in Africa? No.

There are more than 130 million victims of Female Genital Mutilation in the world! Do we need more?

Not only in Africa, Female Genital Mutilation is practiced in Asia too. A large number of Bohra Muslim women in India and Pakistan are being genitally mutilated in secrecy.

World Health Organization says:

Female genital mutilation has no known health benefits. On the contrary, it is known to be harmful to girls and women in many ways. First and foremost, it is painful and traumatic. The removal of or damage to healthy, normal genital tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body and causes several immediate and long-term health consequences. For example, babies born to women who have undergone female genital mutilation suffer a higher rate of neonatal death compared with babies born to women who have not undergone the procedure. end in stillbirth or spontaneous abortion, and in a further 25% the newborn has a low birth weight or serious infection, both of which are associated with an increased risk of perinatal death.

Communities that practice female genital mutilation report a variety of social and religious reasons for continuing with it. Seen from a human rights perspective, the practice reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. Female genital mutilation is nearly always carried out on minors and is therefore a violation of the rights of the child. The practice also violates the rights to health, security and physical integrity of the person, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

Female genital mutilation comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. There are different types of FGM.

Type I — Partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (clitoridectomy).

When it is important to distinguish between the major variations of Type I mutilation, the following subdivisions are proposed: Type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; Type Ib, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

Type II — Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).

When it is important to distinguish between the major variations that have been documented, the following subdivisions are proposed: Type IIa, removal of the labia minora only; Type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora; Type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the labia majora.
Note also that, in French, the term ‘excision’ is often used as a general term covering all types of female genital mutilation.

Type III — Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).

Type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; Type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora.

Type IV — All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

FGM in Africa. Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria..

Mass mutilation.

Children’s blood

In Asia, the countries where female genital mutilation is practiced are Malaysia, Indonesia, southern parts of the Arab Peninsula, along the Persian Gulf, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, South Yemen and among some sects in India, Pakistan and Russia.

Bohra Muslims in India and Pakistan are mostly wealthy and educated. But they secretly mutilate their little girls. 70 percent or more among Bohra Muslims follow the practice of FGM. Dawoodi Bohra is a sub-sect of Ismāʿīlī Shīʿa Islām. They were persecuted in Yemen by both Shi’a and Sunni Muslims. They had to leave Yemen and took refuge in India. It is believed that they brought FGM culture from Yemen to India centuries ago.
A Bohra Muslim girl tells her story

Some Indian Bohra women started protesting against Female Genital Mutilation. Please sign the petition to ban FGM. Don’t forget it’s not a Bohra issue, It’s not a Muslim issue, it’s a Human Rights issue.


FGM in Indonesia.

FGM in Kurdistan

FGM for Muslim girls in UK

A reporter based in UK says, ‘UK fails to halt female genital mutilation. Parents used to take their daughters back to their country of origin for FGM during school holidays. Now-a-days ‘cutters’ are flown in from abroad to perform the illegal procedure in UK. Hundreds of British schoolgirls are facing the terrifying prospect of female genital mutilation (FGM) over Christmas holidays as experts warn the practice continues to flourish across the country.70,000 women living in the UK have undergone FGM, and 20,000 girls remain at risk. It is generally considered to be an essential rite of passage to suppress sexual pleasure, preserve girls’ purity and cleanliness, and is necessary for marriage in many communities even now. It has no religious significance.’

Summer holiday circumcision: Girls bodies at risk. Watch the video.

FGM should be banned all over the world, Now. We should not forget about the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 19 – 1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
Article 24 – 3. States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.
Article 37 – States Parties shall ensure that: a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment…

Many countries banned FGM. But people continue practicing it. Many times, it is women unaware of their rights, commit the heinous crimes against women. Women are forced to prevent the misogynistic patriarchal system from becoming extinct. I wish they could just say, ‘We have enough! We’re not going to live in anti-women system anymore’! If women’s non-cooperation movement really starts, misogynist monsters will definitely be scared. We are half the world’s population. Aren’t we?

Did you ever think of sexualizing penile cancer, dude?

Many women have been fighting against sexualizing breast cancer. They are saying:

‘Sexualizing breast cancer reduces the serious disease to the realm of popular trends and reducing women to the quality of their physical appearance (again!). It probably implies that a woman without breasts is not a woman at all, making it so vital that her breasts be saved. It also implies that only women are the victims of this merciless disease promoting the misnomer that only women possess mammary glands and are susceptible to breast cancer.

Breast cancer campaigns use sexuality because breasts are constantly portrayed in the media as sexual entities. There is a something a little erotic about a woman being prescribed by her doctor to feel her breasts on a regular basis. Breast cancer, however, is not sexy nor is it fun. It is not the pink ribbon sporting, fun loving, laughing beauty in the advertisements. Its scary and sterile. Its full of hospitals and doctors and uncertainty.

The focus on breasts as sexual objects and breast cancer as the mortal enemy of breasts is demoralizing to women who get breast cancer. It emphasizes an elevated status that a woman’s breast has over her person and it reinforces importance that society places on these physical objects.

It is important for diseases that affect women be researched and studied. Breast cancer is incredibly important and needs public support, however that support should not come at the expense of women themselves’.

No other cancer is sexualized the way breast cancer is sexualized. Breast cancer should be taken equally seriously like other cancers.

Please raise awareness for all cancers, not only for breast cancer. People have been suffering from many different cancers and dying young. Some cancers can be prevented, and treatment works best when cancer is found early.

Penile Cancer:

Tongue Cancer:

Liver Cancer:

Male breast Cancer:

Lung Cancer:

Skin Cancer:

Prostate Cancer:

Stomach Cancer:

Cervical Cancer:

Bride Burning: Men burn their wives to death if wives are unable to give them money and materials.

Violence against women can take many forms, from humiliation, harassment, and exploitation to torture and murder. One of the most heinous and shocking forms of violence against women is bride burning. It is practiced in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Men douse their wives in kerosene and set them on fire. The question is instead of burning them, why don’t they strangle them, or shoot them or poison them! They burn them because they can later play innocents and say ‘she committed suicide or it’s just an accident. She used kerosene stove to cook.’

Innocent ‘kitchen fires’ are not really innocent.

Bride burning is linked to the custom of dowry, the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings to her husband in marriage. Thousands of young married women in India are routinely tortured and murdered by husband and in-laws who want more dowry from the bride’s parents. After burning the bride to death, the husband is free to remarry and get new dowry again from new bride. In India, in every one hour and 40 minutes a woman is killed by husband or in-laws who are consumed by greed. More than 5000 women get killed for dowry each year.

‘In 1995, Time Magazine reported that dowry murders in India increased from around 400 a year in the early 1980s to around 5,800 a year by the middle of the 1990s. A year later CNN ran a story saying that every year police receive more than 2,500 reports of bride burning. The Indian National Crime Records Bureau reports that there were about 8172 dowry death cases registered in India in 2008.’

‘In 2004, Amnesty International said, ‘at least 15000 women are murdered in dowry related cases each year in India.’ Some women’s organizations in India said, ‘the number is much higher’. Yes of course, all cases are not reported. The Ahmadabad Women’s Action group has declared that because of dowry at least 1000 women get murdered each year in Gujarat alone.’

In Pakistan 300 women are burned to death each year by husband or in laws. Women organizations in Pakistan would probably say, ‘the actual number is much higher than 300.’

Dowry Prohibition Act in India bans paying and receiving dowries but the tradition continues to exist. As long as patriarchy and misogyny exist, women will continue to pay dowry and will continue to be harassed, humiliated, oppressed, suppressed, beaten, and threatened. They will continue to be burned to death by beloved husband if they are unable to give them more money, more gold, all house furniture, a house, a car, a motorcycle, a bicycle, a branded wrist watch, a set of clothes, anything expensive.

Are you thinking poor and illiterate people do it, rich and literate not? You are wrong. Software Engineers have been torturing and murdering their wives for dowry more or less everyday. They want a new Mercedes-Benz and millions of dollars, business ownership or a high paid job in the West. Men believe they deserve world’s all the big things only because they have a penis.


This tiny penis (above) thinks that it must get all the big things (below) for free.

and many more

The Living Dead

Once upon a time widows were burned alive on their dead husband’s funeral pyres. It was believed that if a widow burn herself to death soon after her husband died, her husband would go to heaven and all his sins would be gone with the wind. Suttee or sati (“good woman” or “chaste wife”) was the Indian tradition of a widow burning herself. The practice of Sutee was banned in 1829.

‘Suttee was sometimes committed voluntarily, but cases of compulsion, escape, and rescue are known. Scattered instances of it continue to occur, most notoriously in the case of Roop Kanwar, an 18-year-old widow who committed suttee in 1987. The incident was highly controversial, as groups throughout India either publicly defended Kanwar’s actions or declared that she had been murdered.’

Religion supports widow burning.

‘The most sacred of Hindu scriptures are the Vedas, and the Rig Veda, the oldest Veda, explicitly sanctions the custom of Sati. The following famous `Sati Hymn’ of the Rig Veda has been recited during the actual immolation of the widow . Rig Veda 10.18.7 : ” Let these women, whose husbands are worthy and are living, enter the house with ghee (applied) as corrylium ( to their eyes). Let these wives first step into the pyre, tearless without any affliction and well adorned.’

Rise, come unto the world of life, O woman — come, he is lifeless by whose side thou liest. Wifehood with this thy husband was thy portion, who took thy hand and wooed thee as a lover. (RV 10.18.8)

The Garudapurana favourably mentions the immolation of a widow on the funeral pyre, and states that women of all castes, even the Candalla woman, must perform Sati. The only exceptions allowed by this benevolent author is for pregnant women or those who have young children. If women do not perform sati, then they will be reborn into the lowly body of a woman again and again till they perform Sati. [ Garuda.Purana. II.4.91-100 ]

* A sati who dies on the funeral pyre of her husband enjoys an eternal bliss in heaven [ Daksa Smrti IV.18-19 ] [ Sm.Samu p.30 ] [ 1200, p.65 ]

* According to Vasishta’s Padma-Purana, a woman must, on the death of her husband, allow herself to be burnt alive on the same funeral pyre

* Yajnavalkya, the most important law-giver after Manu, states that sati is the only way for a chaste widow [ Apastamba.I.87 ] [ 1200, p.65 ]

* The Yogini Tantra enjoins upon Brahmana widows to burn themselves on the funeral pyre of their husbands [ Yog.T. II.303-308 ]. Vaisya and Sudra widows were also allowed to do it. It was prohibited to unchaste women and those having many children. [ 1200, p.67 ]

* The Vyasa Smrti gives one of the two alternatives for a Brahmana widow, ie. either to become a sati or to take up ascetism after her tonsure [ Vyasa Sm. II.53 ] [ Sm.S. p.362 ]

Further, the Vishnusmirti gives only two choices for the widow:

Vishnu Smirti.XXV.14 : “If a woman’s husband dies, let her lead a life of chastity, or else mount his pyre”

– [ Vis.Sm. xxv.14 ] [ Clay.13 ]

Brahma is one of the main Aryan gods, being the creator of the world ( later he was identified as an incarnation of Vishnu ). One of the Puranas is named after him, the Brahma Purana. Like other Puranas, it was composed after the Vedas ( Pandits hold 4000 B.C., Indologists 700 B.C.) This scripture also sanctions sati:

Brahma Purana.80.75 : ” It is the highest duty of the woman to immolate herself after her husband “.

Long life is promised to the sati:

Brahma Purana.80.76, 80.77 : ” She [ the sati ] lives with her husband in heaven for as many years as there are pores in the human body, ie. for 35 million years.”

– [ Br.P. 80.76, 80.77 ] [ Sheth 103 ]

Vishnu Dharmasutra XXV.14 contains the statement: ” On her husband’s death, the widow should observe celibacy or should ascend the funeral pyre after him.”

Remember Rudyard Kipling’s poem The Last Suttee?

Widows are excluded from society.
There is a ceremony during the funeral of husband. Widows smash their bangles, remove their vermilion, colorful clothes and all jewelries they have been wearing. Widows have to wear simple white clothes. They are forced to shave their heads. They are not allowed to eat fish, meat, eggs, milk, onions, garlic and many different kinds of vegetable, animal products and spices. They have to fast many times a month. Widows are not thrown on the funeral pyres these days, but they are thrown on some other kinds of pyres. That is not any less traumatic.

There are more than 40 million widows in India. Most of them are ‘living dead’.

A widow’s family members would be excluded from the society if they didn’t respect to the restrictions society impose on widows. A widow is considered a bad omen, she is excluded from all auspicious events. In some cases even her shadow is considered polluting or offensive to society.

‘In India, widows are an invisible community. Although many widows are treated less harshly nowadays, they still face discrimination and neglect. People treat widowhood not as a natural stage in the life cycle of a woman, they treat it as some kind of an aberration. People accept death but do not accept widowhood. “Because somewhere in the Indian psyche, the woman’s identity is with the man and the minute he’s not there, it’s something that cannot be accepted.” Women are not considered as separate human beings. Your husband is dead, you are dead. The suffering of widows is one of the brutal consequences of patriarchy.

Shunned from society, widows flock to Vrindaban and Varanasi, pilgrimage towns to die. Young widows are often sexually exploited. Older women beg at temple gates. Some go to Ashrams where they chant prayers. For a four hour chant they can earn a cup of rice and 7 rupees( 12 cents).’

‘Hindu widows are not supposed to remarry. With little social or economic status, many become destitute. The truth is, women do not lose their dignity and basic rights when they lose their husbands. But our anti-women society do not like to think about women’s basic human rights.

What happens when a man’s wife dies? Is he treated as a bad omen? Is he excluded from all auspicious events? Does he stop eating certain food and stop wearing colorful clothes? Is he sent to a lonely place where he has nothing to do but to wait for his death? No. Men don’t get abandoned, they remarry young women and start a new life.

You can always watch Water, a great movie. The story of an eight-year-old widow.