By Sulaiman Razvi
Women have been suppressed in the patriarchal Indian society. Hinduism played a key role in oppressing women, most of the practices against women in India were introduced by Hindusim. Instant desertion of wives is higher among Hindus that’s the reason why divorce rate is less among Hindus, the wife is abandoned in the case of separation. Marital rape is not a crime in India and Hindu women are not equal guardian as per Hindu minority & Guardianship Act. Hindu women faced several oppressive practices like Sati Pratha, low caste women paying taxes to cover their breasts, Devdasi etc. Although these are the things of the past and outlawed by the government but it’s still in practice defying the government’s prohibition. Apologists of Indian culture mostly prefers to ignore those malpractices against women, if you tell any apologist about Sati then he will rubbish your claim and the first thing he will tell you is that “It was an ancient practice banned long ago by the government, why discuss about that?” But the apologist won’t be willing to discuss some practices prevailing in current age like Devdasi, Maitri Karar, Nata Pratha, ban of women into temples etc.
To begin with, let’s have a look at the rates of female infanticide. Female infanticide is highest among Hindus in India but it’s not viewed as a Hindu problem but as a social problem or problem in Indian society,
“Among Hindus, who make up nearly 80% of India’s population, the child sex ratio declined from 925 in 2001 to 913 in the latest Census data. This is the biggest decline — of 12 points — among all religious communities and a chilling reminder for the continuing need for much more robust action to save the girl child.”
“Among other communities, there were 958 Christian girls against 1,000 boys, 913 Hindu girls against 1,000 boys, 943 Muslim girls against 1,000 boys and 933 Buddhist girls against 1,000 boys.
As per 2001 census, the child sex ratio among Hindu was 925 girls against 1,000 boys, Muslims 950 girls, Christians 964 girls, Sikhs 786 girls, Buddhists 942 girls and Jains 870 girls against 1,000 boys.”
“Decades of sex determination tests followed by female foeticide have finally caught up with Punjab and Haryana,” said a sociologist in the shared state capital Chandigarh.
The situation will worsen as sex ratios dip further over the next decade, she added. In Fatehgarh Sahib district, 200 miles north of Delhi, for instance, the present male-female ratio is among India’s lowest – 754 girls for 1,000 boys. Some villages in the region dominated by Jat Sikh farmers have only 550-600 girls per 1000 males and the disparity is growing.
India looses millions of unborn female baby every year,
10 million foetuses aborted in India
“In 1991 and 2001, Muslims and Hindus had virtually similar female-male ratios, with the former consistently at a slight advantage. Sikhs trailed far behind. But in 2011 Muslims have shown a marked improvement.
In a decade, their female-male ratio has leaped from 936 to 951 women for every 1000 Muslim men. But in the same period, the Hindu ratio only rose from 931 to 939. The gender gap between the two communities has widened.”
“The government has yet to release the latest religion-specific child sex ratios. In 2001, it was 950 for Muslims, which is considered to be more or less ‘normal’. But it was significantly lower for Hindus due to entrenched gender discrimination, especially blatant sex selective abortion.”
“So, in all likelihood in this round too, Muslim child sex ratios are expected to be better than Hindus. Perhaps significantly better, despite setbacks in Jammu and Kashmir. But the number of “missing women” among Hindus is likely to be alarming.”
“Rich states like Haryana and Punjab fare the worst in child sex ratios, especially due to sex-selective abortions. But, across the border in Pakistan’s Punjab province despite lower female literacy, more girls are born and survive childhood. Religion is an important difference across the two sides of the Punjab border.”
“Across the majority of Indian states, too, Muslims have overall higher female-male ratios despite lower socio-economic development and literacy. One argument is that in larger Muslim families perhaps there is lesser pressure for sex selection.”
Around 7 million girls in India go missing every decade due to skewed sex-ratio
Maitri karar allows married men in Gujarat to enter ‘friendship deeds’, allowing them to live with women other than their spouse. Women is treated as a mistress/concubine here, what’s more shocking is that it has legal backing.
“In Gujarat, there is a social tradition that is used to circumvent the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act by men so they can “have another woman” in their lives. Hindu Marriage Act only allows one wife. Polygamy is a punishable offense.
In Gujarat a system prevailed in which a man and a woman entered into a friendship agreement, a legitimate contract before a magistrate. It had a social and legal sanction and was popularly known as “maitri karar”. Later this practice was converted into a “service agreement”, according to which the man would keep the woman of his choice in his house as a helper or a maid servant. Not surprisingly, this contract, too, had a legal and social legitimacy. It is well known that this practice was followed by many Ministers and senior bureaucrats.
As per some figures 29,951 cases of ‘Maitri Karar‘ (Friendship Contract) are registered in the District Collectors office in Ahmedabad.”
No cumbersome divorce proceedings, people of Ahmedabad opt for Maitri Karar Contract:
October 24, 2013
Features: Examples of similar liaisons abound throughout Ahmedabad. Rather than initiate or wait for cumbersome divorce proceedings to be decided, people of Ahmedabad are opting for a contract known as maitri karar (friendship contract). The document is in fact little more than a promise of friendship and companionship between a man and a woman at least one of whom is already married. In addition, a maitri karar invariably includes an undertaking by the man that he will look after and financially support his partner.
College girl gets court nod for ‘live-in’ with married man
Ahmedabad, Thu Jun 28 2012
A metropolitan court recently allowed a 20-year-old woman to unite with her live-in mate from the same tribe, releasing her from a women’s protection home where she was kept against her wishes.
Neha Patani, a resident of Saraspur and in her first year of college, had eloped with Sanjay Kumar Patani, an auto-rickshaw driver, three months ago. Sanjay was already married and has four children.
Sanjay and Neha had signed a “live-in contract” (maitri karar) before they started living together.
Friends and lovers
When religion came in the way, a court opened a rarely used door. How a Gujarat love story found a Gujarat solution
It was then that they began looking at legal options. He says he approached a lawyer friend, who consulted other legal experts, who advised them to opt for maitri karar as they could not legally marry.
Women in the uniform civil code debate
The upper-caste Gujarati version of bigamy is called maitri karar, meaning friendship document. Saying that people in Ahmedabad were “opting for it”, a 2013 report in India Today described it thus: “The document is in fact little more than a promise of friendship and companionship between a man and a woman at least one of whom is already married. In addition, a maitri karar invariably includes an undertaking by the man that he will look after and financially support his partner.
“Each agreement is tailor-made to suit the particular needs of the individuals who make it, but there are a number of common features. Every agreement puts down in detail the backgrounds and marital status of the lovers, and both parties state that they know the other’s antecedents and have opted for the relationship out of free will. Some karars are even specific about the amount the man will pay for the upkeep of his partner. Some agreements even succeed in reflecting the nature of the relationship between the signatories.”
Incident of Maitri Karar used on rape survivor
“The Dafers who kidnapped me had got my thumb impression on a paper to claim marriage or ‘maitri karar’ through a notary. The notary has not been named in the complaint. A tantrik also performed some ritual pronouncing me a Dafer wife. I told the police about the tantrik but he too has not been named as an accused by the police,” said the survivor.
‘Nata Pratha’ is a traditional system in Rajasthan by which a married woman can go away with another man in lieu of money paid to the her husband or his family by the second man. Nata Pratha, practiced in states such as Rajasthan, allows a man to sell his wife.
The bride price
Men from backward communities in Rajasthan buy, sell their wives with impunity
Kids most vulnerable to abuse due to ‘Nata pratha’
A report prepared by NGO Vaghdhara in association with Unicef states that 2% of the 35 lakh tribal children in the age group of 4-14 have been impacted due to ‘Nata’ practice. Historical accounts state that the practice of living with another person if a spouse is unhappy or one of them dies is prevalent from the last couple of centuries.
The person who undergoes Nata can live with another person of his/her choice without being married as many times as they want.
The main findings are that majority of mothers who went for ‘nata’ marriage have either never tried or they were not allowed to maintain contact with their children. “Thirty-eight percent abandoned children covered under the study are subjected to exploitation in terms of household chores or have been beaten. Around 13% of the children have to face humiliation in schools and the society at large,” said a report. It didn’t stop here, 6% of them reportedly faced abuse (verbal and physical).
Tribal children bear brunt of Nata Pratha in Rajasthan: Study
Children face humiliation at schools if their mother has gone to another man under an ancient practice called Nata Pratha, and most of them do not have friends to share their feelings with, a study by an NGO in south Rajasthan, has found.
The study – which was released at a state-level consultation on “ensuring protecting rights of tribal children in Rajasthan” – said 13% of children face humiliation at schools because of Nata in their family, 6% of them face verbal and physical abuse.
Twenty-two percentage of children reported that they see violence in families in daily life after Nata relation, the study found.
To move in with married woman, ward panch marries 6-yr-old
Nata Pratha, a custom prevalent in parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, allows a man to have a live-in relationship with a married woman.
An ancient local custom, Nata Pratha dictates that any married man can have an affair with a married woman if he provides financial compensation, the two lovers must both be wed.
Because Ratan Lal Jat was single, he married the six-year-old girl in order to comply with the age-old tradition.
In the name of Nata Pratha नाता प्रथा की आड़ मे
सुनील के पिता का काम अहमदाबाद में काफी दिनों से ठीक नही चल रहा था तथा आर्थिक तंगी काफी ज्यादा थी। आर्थिक तंगी से परेशान होकर अपनी पत्नी काली को तीन गांव दूर नाते भेज दिया था और काली के बदले में उसने अच्छे पैसे लिये थे।
प्रथा का दुरूपयोग आज के दौर में महिलाओं की तस्करी, दलाली अथवा महिलाओं की अदला-बदली में भी किया जा रहा है और इस कार्य में समुदाय स्तर के समाज के मुख्य प्रतिनिधियों द्वारा भी बढ़-चढ़ कर भाग लिया जाता है, जिनमें जाति पंच, वृद्धजन एवं आस-पास के गांव के व्यक्ति भी इसमें सम्मिलित होते है।
The local marriage broker or agent who keeps track of men interested in cajoling women into Nata approaches him. He tells Madanlal about Sita Bai who has been forced out by her husband along with her five-year-old child. Sita Bai and her son now stay with her parents who, being poor, cannot keep her for long.
One day the marriage agent takes Madanlal to Sita Bai’s place where he discreetly sees her and demands Rs. 80,000 to fix the Nata. When Madanlal complains of the steep price demanded for Sita Bai, the broker dismisses Madanlal saying he can get others who would be happy to pay the price. Hearing this, Madanlal grudgingly agrees to pay. A third of this will go to the broker and the rest of it to Sita Bai’s parents who will take care of her son.
Cases of Nata Pratha are rampant, not only in Rajasthan but also in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, but unfortunately most go unnoticed. One reason may be the fact that they do not capture media attention as much as cases of “Sati” or dowry deaths do.
Broadly speaking, Nata Pratha is a traditional practice whereby a man can refuse to stay in his present marriage and can seek another woman by paying a specified monetary price for her; in fact, literally speaking, “buying” her. The sum may range from a few thousands to even a few lakhs.
One such case is Shanta Bai who refused to be sent on Nata. Her husband was forcing her out as he wanted to get another woman on Nata. She failed to comply with his demands and so he spread a rumour in the village calling her a witch. This rumour spread like wildfire and led to her death. Her body was found in the village well and the case was reported as suicide.
One day the marriage agent takes Madanlal to Sita Bai’s place where he discreetly sees her and demands Rs. 80,000 to fix the Nata. When Madanlal complains of the steep price demanded for Sita Bai, the broker dismisses Madanlal saying he can get others who would be happy to pay the price. Hearing this, Madanlal grudgingly agrees to pay. A third of this will go to the broker and the rest of it to Sita Bai’s parents who will take care of her son. Sita Bai’s son can’t stay with her because Mandanlal does not want him. He wants a son of his own from Sita Bai. In this chain of events Sita Bai has had no role to play.
Cases of Nata Pratha are rampant, not only in Rajasthan but also in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, but unfortunately most go unnoticed. One reason may be the fact that they do not capture media attention as much as cases of “Sati” or dowry deaths do. To a reader, any news of Nata Pratha may not sound very sensational; however its repercussions on the rural women are horrific. Broadly speaking, Nata Pratha is a traditional practice whereby a man can refuse to stay in his present marriage and can seek another woman by paying a specified monetary price for her; in fact, literally speaking, “buying” her. The sum may range from a few thousands to even a few lakhs. The reasons for divorcing a woman may range from her character being suspect to calling her a witch and subsequently abandoning her. As Nata is traditional practice which is socially sanctioned and acknowledged, most men have the freedom to leave one woman and get another without actually giving any reasons for it.
The future for a single abandoned woman may be even bleaker, bereft of all her property rights. As is evident in our history, a woman has never had any property rights; hence she is always at the mercy of her husband, her grown-up son, or her own parents. She may further be labelled as a characterless woman if she decides to stay without a man for the rest of her life. Hence she may have no choice but to succumb to Nata.
One such case is Shanta Bai who refused to be sent on Nata. Her husband was forcing her out as he wanted to get another woman on Nata. She failed to comply with his demands and so he spread a rumour in the village calling her a witch. This rumour spread like wildfire and led to her death. Her body was found in the village well and the case was reported as suicide.
The fact that the Jati Panch sanctions Nata aggravates it further. The Jati Panch is one of the most recognized forms of village institution. It consists of people of higher castes, elderly men from close-by villages, and the police. The Jati Panch is a body which settles disputes, decides on marriages, and is also an authority on Nata relations. An exclusive domain of men, the Jati Panch completely excludes women from all forms of decision-making
Nata has always been practiced in rural Rajasthan. However, in recent times, Nata Pratha has also become a lucrative business which involves the local brokers, the “Jati Panch,” as well as the police. Sometimes, when people are not able to pay a high commission to the brokers, they bribe the police and subsequently abduct the woman. After receiving their dues, the police turn a blind eye to the abduction.
Scarred by ancient Rajasthan custom, abandoned kids find hope in govt scheme
Nata Pratha, a centuries-old custom in Rajasthan, allows men to live with women they are not married to. Women who follow the regressive practice leave their children behind with their marital families when they go off to another man.
When Jyoti’s mother left, she and her two siblings, 10 and 8, became Bhanwari’s responsibility. The elderly woman was already raising four children of her daughter, Sanjana, whose husband hacked her to death over a domestic dispute in 2012. The man is in jail.
Pale-skinned Bhanwari wasn’t aware of government aid for raising children left by women who follow Nata Pratha which is a social scourge for children left behind by their mothers.\
Nata Pratha, a Tradition That Allows Men and Women to Live With Person of Their Choice
A centuries-old custom “Nata Pratha” is still alive in several Indian states like Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The custom allows men to live with as many women resulting in children being abandoned by their parents.
Nata Pratha is practiced by the Bhil tribe, the one of the largest tribes in South Asia.
Agony of alliances
A socially accepted custom forces women in rural Rajasthan into a string of marriages approved by their families or even husbands for the “bride price” they get from the new groom.
Testimonies of Nata Pratha victims http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/custom-in-rajasthan-forces-women-into-string-of-marriages-for-bride-price/1/181530.html
While Polygamy for Hindu is prohibited by the Hindu marriage act and viewed as heinous among Hindus only to taunt Muslims but the incidence of polygamy is higher among Hindus in India than Muslims even after its illegality. And as a result some Hindu men opt for other things like converting to Islam to marry more women, practicing Maitri Karar, Nata Pratha so as to have another women in their lives and many practices bigamy without practicing the above mentioned things. Such relationships in India include contemporary polyandry in Punjab and Haryana, the Nata Pratha in Rajasthan and Maitri Karar in Gujarat. Many of these practices, whether traditional or not, involve male bigamy. Following graphs shows incidence of polygamy among various religions in India, first graph is taken from Scroll.in and second one is made by me,
For more information go through the article Polygamy in Hindu Dharma
Goa allows ‘Limited Polygamy” to Hindu men on the following condition,
Article 3 states:
“However, the marriage contracted by a male Gentile Hindu by simultaneous polygamy shall not produce civil effects; except in the following cases only (1) Absolute absence of issues by the wife of the previous marriage until she attains the age of 25 years. (2) Absolute absence of male issue, the previous wife having completed 30 years of age, and being of lower age, ten years having elapsed from the last pregnancy; (3) Separation on any legal grounds when proceeding from the wife and there being no male issue, (4) Dissolution of the previous marriage as provided for in Article 5.”
— Source: Family Laws of Goa, Vol 1 by MS Usgaoncar.
Indian Men Marry ‘Water Wives’ In Drought-Stricken Villages To Survive Heat Wave, Water Shortages
Indian men in a drought-stricken village are marrying multiple women in order to fetch drinking water for their household. Villagers in Denganmal in western India rely on two wells for drinking water, but the sweltering walk and wait at the crowded spot can take hours. The answer? A “water wife,” villagers told Reuters.
Polygamy is outlawed in India, but “water wives” have become the norm in Denganmal as India faces the threat of another drought this year. Sakharam Bhagat, 66, now has three wives, two of whom he married just to ensure his family had enough water to drink and cook with.
“I had to have someone to bring us water, and marrying again was the only option,” Bhagat, who works as a day laborer on a nearby farm, told Reuters on Thursday. “My first wife was busy with the kids. When my second wife fell sick and was unable to fetch water, I married a third.”
Polyandry is not prevalent in large scale but many Hindu tribes still practices Polyandry.
The wife married to FIVE brothers: Rajo, 21, follows a tradition in Indian villages which allows families to hold on to their farmland
- Rajo Verma, 21, lives in one room with the siblings, in Northern India
- The young wife spends each night with a different brother in turn
- She does not know which of siblings is the father of her young son
- Fraternal polyandry is tradition in the small village near Dehradun
The ancient Hindu tradition of polyandry was once widely practiced in India, but is now only observed by a minority.
Share wife save land
It may be incongruous in the 21st century, but polyandry, an ancient tribal custom in the remote Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, still thrives. The reasons are largely to do with ancestral land holdings.
With four common offspring, they eke out their living mainly from the four bighas of land they had inherited. “Had we married separately, our family would have spread but the land would have shrunk. Having a common wife has saved us from penury,” says Namgayal.
The extreme form of fraternal polyandry in which four to five siblings have a common wife is now mainly confined to the remote interiors of Pooh and Yangthang areas of upper Kinnaur, but elsewhere the practice has evolved into a more practical equation of two brothers sharing a spouse.
One Bride for 2 Brothers: A Custom Fades in India
Buddhi Devi was 14 when she was betrothed. In India, that is not unusual: many marry young. Her intended was a boy from her village who was two years younger- that, too, was not strange. But shee was also supposed to marry her future husband’s younger brother, once he was old enough.
Ms. Devi is a ghost of another times, one of a shrinking handful of people who still live in families here that follow the ancient practice of polyandy.
In This Village In Rajasthan, Wives Are Being ‘Shared’ Within Families To Save Land
The tradition of ‘Draupadi’ in the land of Shiva: Many husbands, one wife
The layman identifies it with Draupadi, the heroine of Ved Vyas’ Mahabharata who was married to the five Pandava brothers.
In Kinnaur it is said that songs of bereavement and separation are sung by women only with the permission of the gods. That’s because women here are not even given the time to mourn the death of a spouse.
The times have changed and with it many traditions, but polyandry continues to be practiced.
Many families here have a single wife for four or five brothers.
Dowry (known as Dahej in Hindi) has been traditionally practiced in the Hindu society since centuries. Dowry is given by the parents of the girl and it consists of various household things like dresses, ornaments, electrical goods, bedroom furniture, etc. at the time of the marriage. But ironically, this practice also like other is not viewed a Hindu problem but as a problem in Indian society, though it maybe prevalent in other religions in India due to influence of Hinduism but it’s mostly practiced by Hindus. Let’s have a look at the survey,
“In an informal study of dowry deaths which reached the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court, conducted by Majlis, Mumbai, over 95 per cent of these cases of dowry death were among Hindus.”
“the problem of dowry-related violence and dowry deaths. There is no research conducted as to how many women who are murdered for dowry are Hindus. A research done by our organisation about cases which have reached the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court revealed that more than 90 percent were Hindus. Less than 10 percent were Muslims and others.”
“All over India, where Hindu wives traditionally burned on their husbands’ funeral pyres, brides in recent years have been dying in their husband’s homes in fires that were called ”accidents” until women’s organizations began to demand an official accounting.”
“Women’s organizations point to the seriousness of the situation. One, the Ahmedabad Women’s Action Group, in Gujarat state, says that research shows that 1,000 women may be burned alive annually in that state alone. Gujarat is the birthplace of Mohandas K. Gandhi.”
“Asked recently in Parliament to quantify this phenomenon, which began to draw attention about a decade ago when the number of deaths in fires reported as ”kitchen accidents” started rising in northern India, India’s Home Affairs Minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, said that registered cases of dowry deaths nationwide numbered 999 in 1985, 1,319 in 1986 and 1,786 in 1987. Women’s groups say that total will be surpassed easily this year -and that in a country of 800 million people, most of whom do not report domestic violence, the real numbers are far higher. Some Deaths Suicides”
Rising number of dowry deaths in India: NCRB
Dowry deaths: One woman dies every hour
84% Of 12 Million Married Children Under 10 Are Hindus
84 percent of 12 million married children under 10 are Hindus
Nearly 12 million Indian children were married before the age of 10 years – 84 per cent of them Hindu and 11 percent Muslim – reveals an IndiaSpend analysis of recently released census data.
The data further reveals that 72 per cent of all Hindu girls married before 10 were in rural areas…
71% of those married in Uttar Pradesh are minor girls
Two million girls in Uttar Pradesh (UP) are married in the age group of 10-19 years, forming 71% of the total married people in this age group in the state. UP has also the highest number of children born to children that stands at one million.
Other than child marriage, India also has high rate of sexual assaults on children,
Sexual assault on children is on the rise in India, According to the National Crime Records Bureau a total of 12,363 cases of child rape were reported in the country during 2013 as compared to 8,541 in 2012 accounting for an increase of 44.7%. The maximum child rape cases were reported in Madhya Pradesh (2,112 cases) followed by Maharashtra (1,546 cases) and Uttar Pradesh (1,381 cases). These three states together accounted for 40.8% of the total child rape cases reported in the country.
Two temple priests, who allegedly got their son and daughter — both minors — married, were detained by the Hayathnagar police of Rachakonda on Friday.
Hayathnagar police said that Ramesh Kumar Sharma, working as priest in a temple at Vemulawada, had agreed to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to the son of Anjaneya Sharma, priest in a temple at Banjara Hills, a few weeks ago.
The girl and boy were in ninth and tenth standards respectively.
33 Per Cent Of Child Brides In The World Are Indian: Report
At 103 million, the number of child marriages in India is more than the total population of Philippines (100 million) and Germany (80.68 million), stated the report.
“Last year a Lancet study estimated there were 187,000 suicides in India among over 15s in 2010, or three percent of all deaths recorded that year. It represented a more than 50,000 increase on official National Crime Records Bureau figures, attributed to under-reporting of cause of death possibly due to social concerns over what remains a taboo subject. Compare this with the 5,608 suicides that occurred in over 15s in the UK in 2010. India’s population is nearly 20 times that of the UK’s, meaning equivalent figures would set Indian suicides at about 112,000 — 75,000 less than the Lancet article’s estimates.”
“According to the study, 40 percent of those suicides among men and 56 percent among women occurred between the ages of 15 and 29, and rates were higher among well-educated young people in wealthier areas, suggesting economic strife is not the overriding cause behind the increase. This may instead correlate to social pressures surrounding issues of marriage at that time in life.”
“The escalating issue of sexual discrimination and the consequent violence towards women may also be a contributory factor. In response, the country’s parliament has just passed a new law to offer more protection for women and harsher penalties for their attackers. A sign of the kind of social taboo surrounding the issue was made clear with an inclusion in the law to make it a crime for police to refuse to open a case based on complaints by women about sexual attacks. “The main social determinants for suicide in women are interpersonal violence (for example, marital violence) and economic difficulties,” Vikram Patel, Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science and coauthor on the Lancet study, told Wired.co.uk.”
Honour killing in India is highest among Hindus. The main reason behind it inter-caste marriage and unfortunately it is sanctioned by Hindu scriptures.
Caste pride, purity of women and honour killings
“While up north, khap panchayats (kangaroo courts) held by dominant communities brazenly rule against inter-caste love marriages, in Tamil Nadu many cases of honour killings go unreported as the deaths are often passed off as suicides. The recent death of a 17-year-old caste Hindu girl, whose parents opposed her love affair with a Scheduled Caste youth in Ramanathapuram district indicates the serious proportions assumed by this under-reported social reality.”
“Mr. Sampath claimed that in the last three years the State had witnessed 98 honour killings, but most of these cases were “covered up” as suicides.
“Even if inter-caste marriages had the blessings of parents of the bride and groom, humiliations, social boycott and ostracisation force them either to break the marriage or encourage them to eliminate the newly married in the name of honour killing,” he contends.”
Honor killings due to inter-caste marriages
Sati Pratha is the immolation of widow on her husband’s funeral pyre. Although Sati Pratha is banned by the government and it’s not practiced by Hindus but there have been some isolated incidents of Sati Pratha,
1 April 2015 Maharashtra: Woman’s body found from husband’s pyre
Dec 15 2014: In Bihar, 65-year-old woman jumps into husband’s funeral pyre
9 Sep 2009 Indian women still commit ritual suicides
14 October 2008 Relatives arrested after widow burns to death on funeral pyre
22 September 2006 Brothers arrested for throwing 95-year-old mother on funeral pyre
22 August 2006 India wife dies on husband’s pyre
An unusual occurence in Bihar
“In 1987, 18-year-old Roop Kanwar was immolated in Rajasthan in front of the whole village. Hers was the fortieth case in independent India, and the 28th in Rajasthan. In this case too it was glorified as the ultimate religious act of a married woman. Public pressure forced the government to enact the Rajasthan Sati Prevention Ordinance on October 1, 1987. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia had maintained a stony silence on whether her government will appeal against the judgment. And it had to be filed before March 31. This would have meant going against her mother’s professed views supporting sati. It would also have meant going against the Hindu revivalists in the BJP. Incidentally, VHP Vice-President Acharya Dharmendra was the master of ceremonies at the first death anniversary of Roop Kanwar.”
One of the most ignored practice that’s still prevalent and destroying the lives of thousands of low caste Hindu women in India is Devdasi. Devdasi means servant of god, Devdasi should dance in temple and she is also forced into prostitution and sexually abused by the Brahmins. Although Devdasi is banned by government but Temple prostitution or sacred prostitution is still prevalent in many parts of India,
According to a report by one-man commission headed by Justice Raghunath Rao in 2015, there are 80,000 Devdasi in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states.
Devadasi’ system continues to exist despite ban: Book
According to the book, as per official figures, as many as 46,000 former devadasis have been identified in Karnataka alone, adding, they are getting a meagre pension of Rs 500 per month.
As per Theguardian.com 2011 report “The National Commission for Women estimate that there are 48,358 Devadasis currently in India.”
And as per TheHindu.com
Quoting the National Commission for Women, the authority says there are 2.5 lakh “Devadasi” girls who have been dedicated to Yellamma and Khandoba temples on Maharastra-Karnataka border. This includes 16,624 from Andhra Pradesh, 22,941 from Karnataka and 2,479 from Maharastra. The Devadasi system is prevalent in 10 districts of north Karnataka and 14 districts in Andhra Pradesh.
The caste system is in Hindu religion has many manifestations. It has not only divided the society in to various layers of graded hierarchy but has also created inhuman practices in the name of God. One of it is the Devadasi system prevalent in different forms all over India.
This cult is prevalent even today throughout India with some regional variances. Young girls are dedicated or married to, not a mortal-man, but an idol, deity or object of worship or to a temple. The barbarism of the tradition reflects in the very rituals it involves. The initiation ritual is said to include a ‘deflowering ceremony’, known as Uditambuvadu in some parts, where the priest would have intercourse with every girl enrolled at his temple as part of his religious ‘duty’. So much so that a Marathi saying states “Devadasi devachi bayako, sarya gavachi”, meaning ‘Servant of god, but wife of the whole town’. The Devadasi is from the lowest caste, whose parents have given them to local goddesses or temples as human ‘offerings’. She has to remain unmarried, and maintain herself by ceremonial begging to make ends meet.
Married to God before puberty, Devadasis or Joginis, many of whom live in the temples, become sexual servants to the villages’ upper-caste men after their first menstrual period. In some villages, men who buy them keep them as concubines. In others, they are public chattels, who are used by men free of charge. Socially, they are outcasts and they do suffer from severe venereal and sexually transmitted diseases. A majority of Devadasis, after reaching a certain age, migrate to towns where they join brothels and become commercial sex workers.
Some of the states where the Devadasi practice are still prevalent have tried to eradicate it through state laws like the Bombay Devadasis Protection Act, 1934, the Prohibition of Dedication Act, 1982 of Karnataka and the Andhra Pradesh Prohibition of Dedication Act, 1988.
However, the practice lives on in the states in South India mainly in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Districts bordering Maharashtra and Karnataka are known as the ‘Devadasi belt’ of the country. According to the National Commission on Women of India, it is estimated that around 2,50,000 Dalit girls are dedicated as Devadasis to Yellamma and Khondaba temples in the Maharashtra-Karnataka border.
India’s Devadasis Trapped In Cycle Of Poverty And Sex Work
As recently as 2013, estimates put the number of devadasis at 450,000, with most of them found in the states of Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
How The Caste System Forces Dalit Women Into Prostitution
When priests and other upper caste men sleep with a devadasi, they claim it is the goddess’ desires that they are appeasing.
In Karnataka alone, there are an estimated 100,000 devadasis. Today, most wind up in the brothels of India’s cities, getting higher rates the younger they are.
Older devadasi women are often seen sitting around temples begging, their health in a horrible condition. With no way to earn money at their age, mothers themselves need their daughters to sell their bodies to feed the family. This leaves no scope of going to school for the little girl and makes it a generational cycle.
About 5,000 to 10,000 girls enter this life of sexual subjugation and subsequently prostitution every year. Most girls and women in India’s urban brothels come from Dalit, lower caste, tribal, or minority communities. 90 percent of sex workers’ daughters in India follow their mothers into the same profession.
Women and children beaten up by priests for entering Trimbakeshwar Temple in Nashik
Women’s activist Trupti Desai beaten up for entering Mahalaxmi temple
Hindu temple declares it will only allow women to enter once a scanning machine is designed to check nobody going in is menstruating
Sabarimala temple bans anyone who could be menstruating from entering
Women are also not allowed in Ranakpur Temple (Rajasthan), Lord Kartikeya Temple (Pushkar), Patbausi Satra (Assam).
Women were not allowed in a temple because they were wearing leggings, ironically the priest inside the temple remains topless and wears dhoti revealing part of his shin.
Women in Churidar blocked at Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple
The women who tried to enter the temple wearing churidar on Wednesday were blocked at the East Entrance of the temple by Hindu activists.
Devadasi practice reported in Raichur village
Unlike in the case of Triple Talaq within the Muslim community, where the wife might struggle for few months but eventually moves on with life by re-marrying, abandoned wives go through life-long suffering. Majority of the abandoned wives in India are from Hindu community with the numbers reaching as many as 2 million as per 2011 Census.
The Hindu community in India is notorious for abandoning the wives, as it’s extremely difficult for a Hindu man to obtain divorce in Indian Courts. Instead it is always easier to simply abandon the wife.
Modi had the option of going through a formal divorce within Indian Legal system but he choose to abandon his wife. Even today, his wife Jashodaben Modi continues to live alone and deserted. In an interview to NDTV, Mrs. Modi said “if he calls once, I will go with him”. Such is the desperation of abandoned wives, who even after being deserted for 43 years, hope that one day their husband will take them back and they will have a dignified life.
In recent times, Narendra Modi has projected himself to be the Messiah of Indian Muslim women who have gone through Triple Talaq, a Sunni Hanafi practice where husband can divorce his wife by uttering “Talaq” three times instantly. All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has called for the social boycott of the men who divorce their wives via Triple Talaq. BJP on the other hand has repeatedly called for banning triple talaq.
We have analysed data from the ‘Marital Status by Religious Community and Sex – 2011’ C3 table of the census in order to try and establish what the empirical position is.
Our principal finding is that the situation of Indian Muslim women seems far better than women from other religious groups.
- For example, the percentage of women staying in marriage is highest amongst Muslims (87.8%) compared to Hindus (86.2%), Christians (83.7%) and other religious minorities (85.8%).
- The percentage of widowed women is least amongst Muslims (11.1%) compared to Hindus (12.9%), Christians (14.6%) and other religious Minorities (13.3%). It is likely that the culture of widow remarriages provides a higher level of family protection to Muslim women compared to women from other religious communities.
- The percentage of separated and abandoned women is also least amongst the Muslims (0.67%) compared to Hindus (0.69%), Christians (1.19%) and other religious Minorities (0.68%).
- The same census data suggests that the divorced women percentage is higher amongst the Muslims ay 0.49% and Christians at 0.47% compared to other religious minorities (0.33%) and the Hindus, at 0.22%. The practice of getting a divorce amongst the Hindus is traditionally non-existent. Out of 340 million ever-married women 9.1 lakhs are divorced and amongst them 2.1 lakhs are Muslims.
Against this backdrop, the eagerness of the RSS, the BJP and even Prime Minister Modi to project triple talaq as the major issue to be confronted so as to empower the Muslim community is questionable. Instead, they need to focus their concern on the 43 million widowed women belonging to all parts of society, provide them incentives for remarriage and/or programmatic financial support for sustaining a living. There are also close to a million divorced women in India who require social as well as government initiated support. Further, the issues relating to separated and abandoned women is much more serious than that of triple talaq. As per the last census, they are 2.3 million separated and abandoned women in India; in absolute terms, that is more than two times the number of divorced women. There are close to two million Hindu women who are abandoned and separated; this number is 2.8 lakh for Muslims, 0.9 lakh for Christians and 0.8 lakh for other religions.
“The apex court had also appointed a seven-member panel to collect data on their socio-economic conditions. A majority of the 1,000-odd widows interviewed earlier in Vrindavan by the NCW have children who do not care for them.”
“It had said an estimated 5,000-10,000 widows were living like beggars in ashrams dotting the two holy cities of Mathura and Vrindavan.”
“There are as many as 6,000 of them in this place alone and more in the surrounding countryside.”
“Some come as genuine pilgrims to devote their remaining years to the service of Radha/Krishna, but many others come here to escape from brutal family homes or have been flung out by their sons and daughters-in-law as unwanted baggage.
This is one unusual aspect of Indian society that the government might prefer the outside world not to see, despite all their genuine efforts to solve the problem.”
TESTIMONIALS OF WIDOWS
India has around 40 million widows, many of whom go to or are forced to go to homes or streets in holy cities to live out their lives in penance and prayer for the sin of outliving their husbands. Those who do not have to do this fare better but still live with many forms of social exclusion and needless judgment.
I have not heard of any other civilised country where widows are banished to certain areas to live lives of extreme deprivation and grief, with no possibility of a normal life again. Can they not be productive members of society with or without remarriage? Even in the more `elevated’ echelons of society, a widow is viewed with some disdain or pity, rarely as a human being who has suffered a great loss and deserving of getting on with her life in whatever way she sees fit.
The RSS, that repository of Indian culture, has actually had chiefs who have refused to allow widows the great honour of touching their feet as this was thought to be inauspicious. I would love to see the RSS take the lead in a campaign to give widows their lives back.
Women are been called ‘Witches’ and killed to settle scores.
Five women are beaten to death in rural India by villagers who accused them of being WITCHES after illness and a poor harvest blighted the area
- GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: Attackers used sticks, iron rods, knives
- They blamed women for the death of a child in the week, illness, poor crops
- Police have arrested around 50 people involved in the killing on Saturday
- Happened in Kinjia village, 25 miles from Jharkhand state capital Ranchi
India Is Calling Women ‘Witches’ To Settle Scores And Get Away With Murder
Data from the National Crime Records Bureau shows that 2,097 witch-hunt murders took place in between 2000 and 2012 alone. Jharkhand, with 363 reported deaths leads the chart, with the data from 2000 missing since it was a part of Bihar, while 11 other states join the list. Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Assam and Bihar have reported cases of witch-hunting with unofficial figures said to be even higher. In 2013 alone, 160 murders were committed with a witch-hunting motive out of which 54 were committed in Jharkhand alone, while more than 77 have been killed in Assam in witch-hunting related incidents between February 2010 and 2015, with 35 of them being women. But even the startling numbers fail to point out the brutality of the practice.
Woman beheaded in Assam for being a ‘witch’: When will India’s witch hunt stop?
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, of the 160 murders committed in 2013 with witch-hunting as motive, 54 were from Jharkhand alone, the highest in the country. Over 400 have been killed in Jharkhand on suspicions that they were “daayans” or witches since 2001 when the state was carved out of Bihar.
Magazine: Meet the Indian women hunted as witches
In remote parts of India, women branded witches are still being abused, tortured and murdered.
Over 2000 women killed in India for practicing ‘black magic’ in 14 years
It boils down to a chilling statistics: a death is reported every third day in modern India for witchcraft.
Branded a witch: As India suffers spate of attacks one victim of superstition speaks out
Atrocities against Dalit women
Rape of Dalit women registers 500% increase since 2001, RTI reveals
There is a bizarre ritual in India where a person born under the influence of Mars is called a Manglik. Marriage with such a person is believed to cause marital discord and divorce, even sometimes death. Hence the girl is made to marry a Peepal tree or dog.
Girl, 18, marries a stray dog from her village in India to lift ‘curse’
Bengaluru astrologer asks woman to ‘Sleep with a brahmin to rid yourself of doshas’
Only 5% Of Women In India Choose Their Husbands, 80% Need Permission To Visit A Health Centre
DIVORCE OVER SKYPE
Divorce through ‘Skype’ under Hindu Marriage Act but no news in media
Pune Courts Grants Divorce To Couple Living Separated In Singapore And London, Over Skype
Telangana local court judge grants divorce after hearing on Skype