I do not call it honour killing, I call it misogynistic murder.
I do not call it honour killing, I call it misogynistic murder.
Gloria Steinem answered to some questions on violence against women.
Q: What do you think are the origins of male violence against women? Is it rooted in a patriarchal society? Is it biological? Sociological? A desire for power and control?
A: The origins of violence against women by men are not biological. If that were the case, it would exist in every culture. And it doesn’t exist in every culture. There are tribal and less patriarchal cultures in which there is very little violence, or in which the violence is almost equal, you know, especially among boys and girls. But in any case, there is no organized violence. There is no frequency of rape and so on. So it can’t be biological. It has to be social.
It comes in a very deep sense from teaching men to dominate. If you’re going to have a male dominant system, to maintain the system, you have to teach men to dominate. So they come to believe that at a minimum, control is part of masculinity. And some men really, not through their own fault, got born into this culture too, but they get hooked on violence and control as a kind of drug, you know, so that if you talk to men who have been violent against women in their lives, they will speak about it almost like an addiction. I needed a fix, you know, I didn’t feel like a real man. She was daring to not have the dinner ready on time, whatever it was that made him feel even marginally out of control, then causes him to respond with violence.
Q: How do gender roles tie into violence against women?
A: Well, if you consider that the gender roles are just political, then what you come to see is that the full circle of human qualities is divided up so that two-thirds are masculine and one-third is feminine. Women are missing more of their human qualities, so you’ll find us on the fore-front of trying to change this. But men are missing some too. And because they are taught that some inevitable qualities of vulnerability and compassion and empathy and uncertainty, sadly, are feminine. Then they suppress them and hate them and feel shame about them in themselves.
That is a loss of self. Those things are part of yourself, so that’s the deepest origin of a loss of core self esteem. When you see those qualities in other people, you may be threatened by them. You’re afraid to be close to women. Because it’s not masculine to be close to women. The last time you were close to a woman, you were a child. Men may feel just disempowered by intimacy, by being close to a woman, and also by feeling the tender feelings that they’re ashamed of.
Q: Some say society is structured to allow men to be violent? Do we not only allow but encourage men to be violent?
A: Society definitely encourages and condones men’s violence toward women. Not as much as it used to be when it was less visible, and there were still laws on the books that made it alright for men to beat their wives, as long as it was within certain limits, and women were chattel. During the first suffragist wave in this nation, women were possessions, like a table or a chair. So violence toward them was quite condoned. The attitude has diminished, but it’s still there.
It starts with the slippery slope of the supposition that gender that sexual relations between men and women are dominant passive. That’s the beginning of it. Because that’s not true. So, you know, it condones domination by saying that. And then it goes all the way up the scale to beatings, torture, murder, you can hardly open a newspaper today without seeing that a woman has been killed by a man for clearly gender-related reasons.
Q: Does society also encourage women to be victims?
A: Yes, society certainly encourages women to be victims in every way. I mean if we want approval, we have to sing the blues, even as singers we sing the blues. It’s not okay for a woman to be in control of her own body, her own reproductive system, much less of her life. There’s opposition even to that. So passivity is rewarded as feminine. And when you stand up for yourself and try to be autonomous and self-determining, you’re called a lot of names that we all know and that are very common. You may lose your job. You may lose custody of your child. You may be blamed for the failure of your marriage even though it was the man who couldn’t tolerate an equal relationship. If you are beaten, you’re said to have incited it. If you’re raped, you’re said to have invited it. I mean we all know these things that are very deep in the culture. They’re diminishing. I don’t want us to be discouraged because we have made progress. But they’re still very deeply rooted.
Q: What can we do as a society to discourage violence? There are those who say it’s inevitable. Is it? Can we change? How do we change?
A: Violence is not inevitable. I mean, the only inevitable form of violence is the kind that we understand, the only legitimate (if there can ever be legitimate violence) and that’s self-defense. No other form of violence is legitimate. It is never acceptable to use violence to solve a problem. Whether personal or political. So that, added to that statement I just made would be fiercely contested by a lot of people. They would say well there’s always been wars, men have always beaten women. But it isn’t true in all cultures. It doesn’t have to be true. And the first step is imaging.
You know, we have to imagine change before we can begin to move toward it. Then we also need to not only stand at the side of the river bend and rescue the people who are drowning, which is crucial, which is why we so badly need much more money spent on programs that aid victims of domestic violence and rape and so on. But some of us also need to go to the head of the river and see why people are falling in. You know, that has to do with boys being taught that it’s masculine to be dominant and girls being taught that it’s feminine to be dominated or to be passive. We’ve had a lot of people in this country have had the courage to raise their daughters more like their sone. Which is great because it means they’re more equal, and whole women who are now standing up for themselves, is why we’re having this program. But there are many fewer people who have had the courage to raise their sons more like their daughters. And that’s what needs to be done.
Q: Is part of the answer gender equity?
A: Yes, but not just equality, because equality can sound like making a feminine equal to masculine and that’s not the point. The point is because we will, if we keep on talking about masculine and feminine and following those stereotypes, then we will make women suppress and despise their so called masculine qualities and men suppress and despise their so called feminine ones, and that’s where all the trouble starts. So, what we’re talking about is a completing the circle of ourselves. To seeing that all people have all human qualities. Not carving up the self. You know, which is the cause of this cavernous inner, unfillable vacuum. You know that then we try to fill with violence, drugs, work, I mean all kind of addiction.
Q: In Revolution Within, you talk about self-esteem, saying that self-hatred leads to the need to dominate and be dominated. Is part of the answer to improve self-esteem in addition to challenging traditional gender roles? Is it a matter of teaching mutual respect? What specific advice would you give women? Men?
A: Well, I think that the advice is not different because it’s challenging gender roles. But it may sound different because even though we’re trying to complete the circle, we’re traveling in the direction we haven’t been in order to do that. So, for instance, if you think about the golden rule, which was written by men for men, and is very smart, you know, to treat other people as you would like to be treated. That’s very important and very helpful. But women need to treat ourselves as well as we treat others. We need to reverse it. We also need to recognize that there are some people who will be unable to change. So we need to enforce the law. You know, there’s much of a concern about crime in this country but not when it’s crime against women and children.
Q: How do we, as you say, diminish violence, not just punish it?
A: Well, we need to stop raising boys to think that they need to prove their masculinity by being controlling or by not showing emotion or by not being little girls. You can ask kids and if you ask a little girl what do you want to be when you grown up, she’ll tell you three things. And boys are the reverse. What do you want to be — well they name lots of things, but if you say do you want to be, what if you were a little girl, they get very upset at the very idea they might be this inferior thing. They’ve already got this idea that in order to be boys they have to be superior to girls and that’s the problem.
A Kurdish or Iranian girl was stoned to death for falling in love with someone who doesn’t belong to the same sect.
A girl was whipped in Sudan for wearing trousers.
A 17-year-old girl was flogged in Pakistan.
A 17-year-old girl was molested in India.
Girls around the world get molested, harassed, raped, gang-raped, trafficked, tortured, flogged, murdered everyday. Their only crime is they are girls. Shame on men!
Man kept wife’s private parts locked for four years.
A man in India kept his wife’s genitals under lock and key. He drilled holes on each side of her labia majora. Before leaving the house, the man used to put a small lock in the holes. He kept the keys inside his socks.
Hundreds of bizarre torture methods against women exist in a misogynistic society. Nothing surprises me anymore.
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of herself/himself and of her/his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond her/his control.” – Universal Declaration of Human Rights
There are few things we find common among people in the East and people in the West, or people in the South and people in the North. There are rich and there are poor.
The rich in every country are having the same luxury lifestyle. They have everything including expensive houses.
It is nice to have nice beautiful houses. I wish I had one. I wish everyone had one. But I would like to know whether Mukesh Ambani from his 1.8 billion dollar tower home with 27 floors, nine elevators and three helipads can see Mumbai slums where almost half of the city’s 20.5 million population live.
People are homeless both in developed and developing countries. More than 100 million people are homeless worldwide and over 1.2 billion lack adequate housing. 3 million people are homeless in European Union and 18 million live in inadequate housing. 100,000 people sleep on the streets of Australia everyday. 44% of homeless people in Australia are female, 12% of homeless people in Australia are children under the age of 12. Women and Children are the fastest growing group of those who are homeless in Canada.In Brazil, there is a deficit of 6.6 Million housing units, equaling 20 million homeless people, who live in favela (shanty town), shared clandestine rooms, hovels or under bridges and viaducts, or are squatters. 1 million people are homeless in France. 78 million people are homeless in India despite the country growing in global economic stature. India is home to 63% of all slum dwellers in South Asia. 25,296 people are homeless in Japan.In Mexico City an estimated 40% of people live in informal housing.More than 70,000 people live in shack settlements in Namibia. 30,000 people are homeless in the Netherlands. By 2015, there will be an estimated homeless population of 24.4 million people in Nigeria.Around 24,145 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the Occupied Territories since 1967. 40% of the population,32.8million, in Philippines, live in slums. 5 million people are homeless in Russia. Around 17,800 people are homeless in Sweden. Homeless figures in the United States range from 600,000 to 2.5 million.
There are different contributing causes for homelessness. 1. Family breakdown 2. Armed conflict 3. Poverty 4. Natural and man-made disasters 5. Famine 6. Physical and sexual abuse. 7. Exploitation by adults 8. Dislocation through migration 9.Urbanization and overcrowding 10. Acculturation 11. HIV/AIDS 12. Drug and Alcohol related problems 13. Unemployment 14. Low wages 15. Mental disorder 16. Physical Disabilities 18. Domestic violence 19. Lack of affordable housing 20. Social exclusion etc.
Homeless people in five continents. America, Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe
The world has enough money to solve the problems of homelessness but to my surprise I see that the number of homeless people worldwide is increasing.
I often think of a totally different kind of homelessness. They are not literally homeless but they feel homeless. Many women who live in a nice big house know very well that the house belongs to someone else. They are scared to be ‘homeless’, so they compromise with their abusive husbands to get a space in the house, but unfortunately that doesn’t stop them from having a feeling of homelessness. It is a very hopeless and helpless feeling.
I am homeless too. I do not sleep on the street but I feel homeless. I was thrown out of my home 18 years ago. My husband did not do it because I did not have a husband. It was the government. The government literally drag me out of my home and locked the door forever. The religious fanatics demanded for my execution by hanging, instead of supporting me and my freedom of expression, the government supported the religious fanatics for their own narrow political interests. I have been forced to live in the places I do not like to live. Not only me, hundreds of thousands of people are forced to live in exile. Many of them feel homeless for the rest of their lives.
”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.
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.
Men decide to stop violence against women and they stop violence against women.
I prefer the simple one.
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..
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 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?
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.
and many more
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.