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Widow Remarriage: A New Dimension of Social Change in India


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A good marriage does not simply happen. Widow Remarriage is a big question and a task for the women in India. In this study the author highlights the problems faced by the widows, the impact of widow remarriage and its consequences in the society and the changes it brought as a new dimension of social change in India. The finding evidently shows that social stigma on widows is not in practice in India at present. This is a welcoming and good sign for the growth of the country. Widows are permitted to take up jobs, attend functions and ceremonies. The level of suppression of widow in the name of widowhood is gradually vanishing.
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International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences.
ISSN 2250-3226 Volume 2, Number 3 (2012), pp. 195-205
© Research India Publications
Widow Remarriage: A New Dimension of Social
Change in India
1Dr. Emmanuel Janagan Johnson and 2Mrs. Shyamala
1Lecturer and Coordinator, Field Work Practicum in Social Work Deptartment of
Behavioral Sciences Faculty of Social Sciences University of West Indies St.
Augustine Campus. Trinidad and Tobago
2PhD Research Scholar, Karpagam University, Coimbatore, India
A good marriage does not simply happen. Widow Remarriage is a big
question and a task for the women in India. In this study the author highlights
the problems faced by the widows, the impact of widow remarriage and its
consequences in the society and the changes it brought as a new dimension of
social change in India. The finding evidently shows that social stigma on
widows is not in practice in India at present. This is a welcoming and good
sign for the growth of the country. Widows are permitted to take up jobs,
attend functions and ceremonies. The level of suppression of widow in the
name of widowhood is gradually vanishing.
Keywords: Widow, Remarriage, Emotional Problems, Social Change,
A good marriage is the most rewarding experience the life can offer. It is almost like
a heaven on earth. Besides providing for safe and secure sexual gratification it also
takes care of many other human needs like those of companionship, affection, security
etc., it helps both spouses to feel adequate, desired, approved and complete to a
degree which is not available in any other human relationships. (Forbes.1999)
However, a good marriage does not simply happen. It has to be worked out.
Community influence, social context and individuals attitude plays a major role
toward marriage. (Barber 2004). Steps are being undertaken in many countries to
challenge the abuse of widows and to change the cultural perceptions of widow hood.
(Young 2006).
196 Dr. Emmanuel Janagan Johnson and Mrs. Shyamala
Re-marriages in India
Rules for the remarriage of widows differ from one group to another. Generally,
lower-ranking groups allow widow remarriage, particularly if the woman is relatively
young, but the highest-ranking castes discourage or forbid such remarriage.
Remarriage will change the belief about family responsibilities and Obligations
(Coleman.1997). The strictest adherents to the non remarriage of widows are
Brahmans. Almost all groups allow widowers to remarry. Many groups encourage a
widower to marry his deceased wife's younger sister. Remarriage at any time makes
the widow potentially eligible for spouse benefits on her new husbands work record.
(Brien.2004). Widow Remarriage was very common among the young widows and 80
percent of them who do not have a child at the time of widow hood were remarried.
(Agarwala.1967). The establishment of women oriented and feminist presses and
journals have been instrumental in the documentation of gender issues and movement
activities paved a big way for widow remarriage. (Subramaniam 2004).
Problems Faced by the widows in India
Life is unceasing misery for hundreds of millions widows living in India, (Leonard.
2009).While widowhood is unwelcome for anyone in the Indian milieu; it’s the Hindu
widows who have it the worst. Despite all the talk of woman being god, India’s
majority religion Hinduism and many of its adherents treat women and particularly
widows very badly. Widows have a very low social status in the Hindu system and
their sight considered an ill-omen. Often blamed unfairly for their husbands’ deaths
and exploited in every way by both relatives and outsiders, widows are expected to
devote their lives to God and lead a life of renunciation. Due to kargil war more
number of young women became widows and remarriage gave them a new life. (
Parwar 2003) The death of a spouse brings profound change to the living conditions
of the surviving party. The consequences of the decline in support could be disastrous,
though various kinds of compensation were available (Dribe 2007).
Cultural patterns shaped the access to remarriage, but widows resulted more open
than widowers in the partner choice. Furthermore, remarriages were more likely
consanguineous than first unions because of socioeconomic reasons (Manfredini,
2006).Women forming half of the population of the world and share one per cent of
the resources. In India women are born to suffer till their death. The sufferings of
women are doubled if they happen to be widows in the Indian soil. A woman is
surrounded by the culture that seldom she can come out from this. Though social
change is very fast due to the growing globalization few areas remain unchanged and
one of the areas where the change is very slow is the marriage and related customs.
Society is not positive even today for widow remarriage. Setting apart the laws
societal norms are strong here that a widow has to die as a widow whatever her age
and surroundings be. In India widowhood is not just transition from one marital
status to another after the death of the husband. Entering into widowhood is more
hazardous, painful and humiliating to women than to a widower because of the
discrimination, ritual sanctions of the society against widows. With the result,
widows in India not only suffer with social and economic sanctions but also face
Widow Remarriage: A New Dimension of Social Change in India 197
many psychological consequences, loneliness and in many cases deprivation causing
emotional disturbances and imbalance. (Leonard, 2009)
Emotional problems
The customs and traditional deities which will be followed after the death of the
husband will be highly cruel meted to a woman in the world in the name of widow
hood. In spite of her emotional problems like loss of spouse and loss of security or
insecure feeling and loss of income, love, care and affection the widow will not be
allowed to take e part any auspicious ceremony. Some time the widow will not be
permitted to attend the functions like marriage ceremony, house warming ceremonies
etc. She will be left alone in the home. Plenty of restriction on a woman in the name
of widow is still in practice in India. Widow Remarriage has brought a big solution
and freedom from the bondage of this custom. Thus it paved a way for a big
transformation and social change in the Indian society. After her marriage she can
move around and attend functions like other ordinary woman. (Chakravarty.2003)
Social change as a process
Change is a fact of human life. The incidence of remarriage is gradually showing an
increasing trend for the past few decades (Bhat.1984).We may not be aware of it in
our day-to-day experience but it continues to affect using one way or the other. A
hundred and thousand years might be a moment in the life of rocks and mountains but
inhuman society changes take place in the course of merely a generation or two. A
close look will reveal changes both in the structure and function of family and in
patterns of Occupations. It is this dimension of change the notion of process indicates
two major dimensions of social change—its nature and direction. While the nature of
change reveals content of change, the direction speaks about the line in which it is
moving. (Mishra, 1998).
Hindu Widow’s Re-marriage Act 1956
According to the Hindu Widow’s Re-marriage Act 1956 (ACT NO.XV 1856)
Marriage of Hindu widows legalized No marriage contracted between Hindus shall be
invalid, and the issue of no such marriage shall be illegitimate, by reason of the
woman having been previously married or betrothed to another person who was dead
at the time of such marriage, any custom and any interpretation of Hindu law to the
contrary notwithstanding. Widow Remarriage Act was passed in 1856 in British India
prohibiting enforced widowhood practiced mainly among Brahmans and a few other
castes such as Rajputs, Banias and Kayasthas. According to the law, remarrying
widows lost her claims to the property of her first husband. Ishwar Chandra
Vidyasagar championed women education and campaigned hard for widow
remarriage. Parsi social reformer, Behramji Malabari also campaigned for widow
remarriage and published a set of notes on ‘Infant Marriage’ and ‘Enforced
Widowhood’ in August 1884 (Forbes 1999). To encourage widows to remarry a
198 Dr. Emmanuel Janagan Johnson and Mrs. Shyamala
bachelor/widower to lead a normal life the government gives an incentive of 20,000/-
INR to the remarried couples in the form of a National Saving Certificate. According
to the figures available with the Ministry for Women and Child Development (WCD)
there are 33 million widows in the country. As per the 2001 census, widows account
for 9.3 percent of the female population and only 40 per cent of them are over 50
years of age.
Significance of the Study
A thorough methodology was developed to assess the opinion of remarried women
regarding remarriage. Remarriage in India is considered as a neglected factor and
women are not allowed to marry again after the sudden death of her spouse. But
recently the trend is changing and more widows are willing to get married again and
the most welcoming aspect is that more young men are willing to accept widows. This
is an attempt to study the changes that took place in the society because of widow
remarriage. The aim of the study is to analyze the specific issues related to the
problems of widow, to study the impact of widow remarriage and its consequences in
the society and to find out the changes it brought as a new dimension of social change
in India
Stage One: Two villages were selected from each panchayat union using simple
random technique adopting lottery method. A total number of 38 villages were
selected from 19 counties. The villages falling within the limit of Corporation and
Municipalities were excluded.
Stage Two: The researcher visited the selected villages and created a good rapport
with the village leaders and gathered information regarding the remarried widows in
the villages. In all the 38 villages a total of 68 widows are remarried and settled down
happily. The data’s were collected from these 68 women who are remarried. In some
villages the rate of remarried widows may be high, the researcher collected data only
from those who are able to meet.
The author used interview schedule as a tool for collecting the data for the present
study, which consist of 70 closed and open ended questions. The data collected were
carefully analyzed and processed using SPSS package.
Findings and Discussions
It is very clear from the Table number 1 that majority of the respondents (96percent)
are following Hindu religion. It is a most welcoming aspect to note that greater part of
the remarried women are from the Hindu religion though there are lot of religious
restriction for a women to remarry, these women are able to break these restrictions
and remarried happily which is a best example for a new trend of social change in
Widow Remarriage: A New Dimension of Social Change in India 199
India. Remarriage is a voluntary act in which requires investing time e and money in
search of the right partner (Robert M. Hutchens1979). More respondent’s (54.2
percent) mother tongue is Telugu, and followed by 31.8 percent of the respondents
who speak Tamil and the remaining 14 percent of the respondents speak Kannada.
Mass of remarried women (82 percent) are from the nuclear families. Again it is
proved that nuclear families pave way for new dimensions of social change. Joint
family system the women will not be allowed to remarry and she has to look after all
the work load of the entire family like a slave. More than half of the respondents (61.2
percent) studied up to high school level. One significant finding is that among the
remarried women there is no illiterate. This shows that education plays a very
important role in bringing social changes in India. Majority of the respondents (71.6
percent) are living in rented houses. This shows the poor economic condition of the
women who are in financial burden. This also motivates them for remarriage in order
to share their economic burden.
Table 1: Socio-economic conditions of the remarried women.
Mother Tongue
Type of family
Joint Family
Nuclear Family
Educational Status
Up to High School
Higher Secondary School
Type of House
Own House
Rented House
Age of Re
18 to 20
21 to 25
26 to 30
31 to 35
36 and above
Reasons for agreeing to remarry
Majority of the remarried women (43.7%) studied were below 30 years of age. Young
women who lose their husbands due to road accidents are very high in India. These
findings again show that young mind seek revolutionary changes. 41 percent of the
200 Dr. Emmanuel Janagan Johnson and Mrs. Shyamala
women are of the opinion that the economic burden can be considered as major reason
for remarriage. Economic crisis in the poor families in India is a very big threat for
the family life. The economic burden motivates the young widows to remarry and
thus it also brings a new social change in the society.
Impact of widow remarriage as a new dimension of social change
Widows considering remarriage may face conflicting emotions. Finding love again
and remarrying after a woman has lost a spouse can give a whole new lease on life.
Woman will celebrate this new step and know that they deserve to be happy, but tread
lightly in a few areas that may be sensitive. When true love is discovered by a widow
there are frequently family members, such as children or in-laws, or even friends who
may raise objections. They may feel it's a betrayal of lost spouse, that it's too soon to
be remarrying wisely or that new love doesn't compare well to the spouse they lost.
Understand and remind gently that all people are different and special in their own
right and that remarrying will surely never make a woman to forget her lost spouse. A
woman can assure that she would never expect to replace the person she has lost, only
to find a different experience and relationship that can bring her happiness in the years
ahead. Her emotions are likely to be complex as well. Psychologists have found that
the prospect of remarriage, even years after the loss of a spouse, can reawaken deep
feelings. At the extreme, the family may feel that she is unfaithful to her late husband.
In addition, a woman will inevitably compare her lost spouse with her new spouse.
All of these emotions are a normal part of the transition into remarriage. As children
grow and leave the nest to feather their own, there is no reason for them to deny the
love and companionship of marriage. (Mohan, 2003).
A woman has to reassure the family, take this decision carefully and believe that
she is making it for the right reasons. She can ask the family for their support and
acknowledge the suffering and loss together, to prove that getting beyond the pain is
the goal. When a woman announces her decision to remarry, there are a wide range
of possible responses from the children. They may feel guilt and confusion about
"replacing" a beloved lost parent. Younger kids, especially, may feel they are being
shunted aside and resent having to share their affections with another person. The
children may feel competitive with or jealous of their mothers’ new partner. These
feelings are entirely normal and should disappear eventually. But it will probably take
time for the children to get to know and accept the new comer. Talk to them and listen
to their concerns. Oftentimes, family members' concern about remarrying is based on
fear that assets or property from first marriage will be put at risk when women
remarry. That is a justifiable concern and one should address sooner rather than later.
These issues can be dealt with a number of ways through a premarital contract, a will
or other legal agreement. Financial issues are also important to work out in advance.
Resolving them in a way that makes both comfortable will be the first step toward
making new marriage a happy and equitable one. A family's acceptance of a new
marriage doesn't always happen immediately. Over the period of time, children and
extended family will get to know the new spouse better, recognize that she is happy
and eventually come to accept him Good communication is essential to ease the
Widow Remarriage: A New Dimension of Social Change in India 201
transition when you are blending families together. (Christine 1995).
To appreciate the rights of a widow it is essential to understand her position in
society, her economic status and her state of empowerment. It is also necessary to
look at customary law, statutory law and actual practice. Though customary law and
statutory law might give a widow certain rights, in actual practice none of these rights
might be effective because she is not socially empowered to assert those rights and
fight for them. It is in this context that one needs to look at the historical background
and the present position. Widows were always looked upon as inauspicious and were
not permitted to attend festive occasions despite the fact that many of the widows
were young girls whose marriage had not even been consummated. Often the mother-
in law blamed her for being responsible for her son’s death. The death of the husband
was the start of young women’s problems - she was either expected to remain in a
corner of the house idle or to go back to her parents. But if she stayed in her
husband’s family she has to do all the menial work and was ill-treated and not even
given proper food. Her head shaved, her glass bangles broken, she was not allowed to
make herself attractive as she was considered a sexual threat to society. She was made
to eat vegetarian food.
Widows in all communities carried the stigma of inauspiciousness and were thus
required not to participate in religious or auspicious social functions such as marriage
or other celebrations. A widow was not even allowed to perform the ritual ceremony
to welcome her own daughter-in-law. Reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and
others fought for doing with the evil of Sati and permitting remarriage. A widow was
not allowed to marry again unless it was sanctioned by local or custom, but in any
case even if permitted it entailed the forfeiture or divesting of the widow’s estate in
most cases. As there was settled rule of Hindu law that chastity was a condition
precedent for a widow to inherit her husband’s estate unless this had been condoned
earlier by the husband. In recent days changes that takes place in the form of widow
remarriage is considered as a new dimension of social change in India.
45 percent of the respondents are of the opinion that they get married in order to
upbringing of their children. Taking care of the children and upbringing them after the
death of the spouse is not that much easy in India. As the death of a woman’s husband
results in economic crisis, loneliness, fear, frustration, phobia, insecure feeling above
all worries about the children. Remarriage helps the women to take care of children in
a better way. Personality local, socio economic state and age factors affect the widow
remarriage (Gates 1996). 16 percent of the respondents are of the opinion that they
get married to get rid of mental strain. Remarriage give a psychological support to the
woman which also helps them to ventilate their emotional feelings. Two percent of
the respondents are of the opinion that to remove social stigma. Only a very little level
of respondents are of the opinion that remarriage removes social stigma. This finding
clearly shows that at present in India social stigma on widows is not in practice. This
is a welcoming and good sign of growth of the country. Widows are permitted to take
up jobs, attend functions and ceremonies. The level of suppression of widow in the
name of widowhood is gradually vanishing. This is a very good dimension of social
change. (Yogendra. 1973).
From the table number 2 it is evident that on the basis of sex the child 52 percent
202 Dr. Emmanuel Janagan Johnson and Mrs. Shyamala
of the remarried women are having male child and the remaining 48 percent of the
remarried women are having female child. More than 89 percent of the children are
staying with their mothers. Children always prefer to stay with their mothers even
though they are remarried. 89 percent of the remarried women are going for regular
jobs. This shows the women economic independence in India. Only 11 percent of the
remarried women are unemployed. This is due to the family condition and in some
cases the women are looking after their own agricultural lands. 59 percent of the
remarried women gain help from their friends. This finding shows the need and
importance of a good friend. In most of the cases of women during crisis or distress
situation, the first person to help them will be their friends. 41 percent of the
remarried women gain help from their parents. In most of the families after the loss of
their spouse they get good moral and physical support from their parents and from
their siblings. In some rare cases the parents are not in a position to support their
daughter due to difference of opinion. People now are more apt to marry to satisfy
psychological needs than for economic and social needs. Marriage furnishes a means
for the giving and taking of love, understanding and sexual fulfillment. Marriage
offers a measure of security comfort and stability so that both partners soon lead to
know what they can expect. Bound or arise are set by husband and wife it is their
expectation that they will be respected. Marriages are for the raising and rearing of
children and having a family. It is a means of weathering life’s storms and ups and
downs.(O'Connor Thomas 2006). 46 percent of the remarried women get help from
the husbands’ employer. In some families the ex-employer of their husband helps the
widow by providing financial support or by providing a temporary job. Only 06
percent of the remarried women got an appointment on compassionate grounds in the
private companies. Though the government is offer job on the basis of compassionate
grounds. Most of the remarried women are not willing to take up the jobs due to the
government policy decisions.
Table 2: Details on the children of the remarried and working women
Number of Children
Frequency(N= 116)
No child
One child
Two children
Three children
Four children
Gender of the child
Male Children
Details of working women
Going to job
Home makers
Nature of support for remarriage
From Parents
From Friends
Opinion on social adjustment after remarriage
Difficult to adjust
with the society
Widow Remarriage: A New Dimension of Social Change in India 203
Easily manage to adjust
Opinion on their financial condition after remarriage
Financial condition improved
Not improved
95 percent of the remarried women remarried women are of the opinion that they
find it difficult for social adjustments after the death of their first husband. And they
are also of the opinion that they are more comfortable with society after the
remarriage.Some respondents are of the opinion that the remarriage has brought them
a new life and they are able to wipe away the insecure feeling and loneliness after
92 percent of the remarried women are of the opinion that the remarriage has
brought a good solution to their financial problems. Individuals are putting higher
priority on the fulfillment of psychological needs, on the traditional needs of financial
security or having children. Marriage is seen as a means of personal fulfillment and
growth. Couples need to have greater flexibility and openness. This includes diverse
matters such as more flexible family roles and greater honesty and authenticity in
marriage. Yet the attainment of these goals often exacts a price neither partner has
fully anticipated. Good communication especially remains stumbling block for many
couples, mostly because like love, it is something easier than to achieve. The quality
of the marriage relationship has now become very important. In the past, this reflects
the growing belief among people that personal happiness is a right rather than a
luxury. Consequently, couples tend to expect more from their marriages than in the
past and are more likely to end as an unhappy marriage than their parents were.
Although these values are important to most people, not all couples are able to
achieve them in the same way and in the same degree.
From the above findings it clears shows that a majority of the widow remarries not
for physical pleasure or concerning about safety. They are more concern about the
child’s future and the economic burden which motivates them to get married. In some
cases widows’ are married to their husbands own brother within the family
Social work intervention
The present study reveals that more than half of the respondent’s social, economic,
educational status plays a very important role in motivating them to get remarried.
The professional social workers could help the widows to create more awareness on
remarriage and to enhance their status by applying social work methods such as social
casework, social group work, community organization, social action etc. More
number of voluntary organizations can work for the encouragement of widow
remarriage in rural areas and the social workers can conduct awareness program in
order to create awareness among the rural women on the human rights issues, right to
information, and general advocacy programs. Participatory approach will be highly
suitable approach to find out the actual problems of the rural widows and forming of
more self-help groups will help the community to short out the problems. Social
204 Dr. Emmanuel Janagan Johnson and Mrs. Shyamala
workers should come forward to do more systematic research with innovative ideas;
to develop a better society. Students with Community Development specialization
should be actively involved in sensitizing the Government machineries to implement
more number of programs for the benefit of the rural women by creating proving
more rehabilitation programs and encouraging the widow remarriage by bringing
major changes in their policy. No doubt that widow remarriage has brought a new
dimension of social change in India.
This research study reveals that it is possible to save and rehabilitate the life of more
number of widows through sensitizing the young men to come forward to get married
to widows. The only sustainable means for widows to overcome their grief is
remarriage through which an adjustment process of empowerment takes place and
allowing them to fulfill their basic human development needs. In these circumstances,
empowerment would enable women to increase their human and economic
developmental goals as defined by their families and communities. It is advisable to
reorganize communities through sensitization and awareness programmes on widow
remarriage. The educated and politicians at the higher level should find out the ways
to bring a major breakthrough of widow remarriage. Mass widow remarriages may be
organized by the political and religious leader to mark the occasion like women’s day.
Let us stop giving yesterday’s solutions for today’s problems. Let us work together
with the sharpened vision, oriented mission and prompt actions for the whole
improvement of the status of widows in India which is a big social change.
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... Further, there is widespread abuse and oppression of widows compared to widowers. Also, a widower finds it easy to re-marry than a widow (Johnson & Shyamala, 2012;Martin-Matthews, 2011) due to stigma attached to the female whose spouse has died. ...
... From this point on dehumanisation, widows of Binga District in Zimbabwe are reduced to objects as they cannot voice their concerns. The cultural dictates in the district are so intense and powerful such that they obscure the legal protection of the widows from humiliating and dehumanising treatment (Johnson & Shyamala, 2012). The story of the Regional Integration Minister Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga in Zimbabwe is one classical example where she was a victim of property grabbing after the death of her husband Doctor Christopher Mushonga (Rusere, 2010). ...
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Due to the patriarchal and oppressive nature of the communities, Zimbabwean widows need interventions through empowerment and rights-based approaches. This article argues that those in rural area such as Binga District are more prone to oppression and widowhood has a greater impact on them as they lack the necessary resources coupled with lack of prioritisation in professional interventions. With the aim of refocusing social work interventions on empowerment and rights of widows, the article reviews literature from various sources to discuss how social work may intervene. Literature is reviewed thematically to give structure and to ensure focus on relevant discussion points. This revealed the current perspectives on widowhood elucidating on the loopholes existing within these perspectives suggesting that a more comprehensive and context specific understanding of widowhood is needed especially taking into account the young generation of widows in Zimbabwe that needs empowerment and rights-based intervention approaches. This paper has shown that such social work interventions are possible as it is a professional and ethical requisite to intervene where people are marginalised and oppressed in an endeavor to restore their worth and dignity.
... There are wide-ranging research on well-being of widows in India that is measured by poverty and income (Chen & Dreze, 1995;Dreze & Srinivasan, 1997;Garroway, 2013;Lloyd-Sherlock et al., 2015;Jegan, 2020). However, some other studies show well-being of this population group through health and nutrition status (Chen & Drèze, 1992;Jensen, 2007;Sreerupa & Rajan, 2010;Mohapatra, 2011;Mohindra et al., 2012;Pandey & Jha, 2012;Agrawal & Keshri, 2014;Lloyd-Sherlock et al., 2015;Perkins et al., 2016;Perkins et al., 2018) and social security, vulnerability and living arrangement (Chandra, 2011;Kadoya & Yin, 2015;Wilder, 2016;Gupta & Sekher, 2018), remarriage (Johnson & Shyamala, 2012), etc. Unfortunately, rarely studies have recognized food availability in the household for the widows which is an important determinant of well-being in aging. ...
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The World Health Organization defines, elder abuse or ill treatment as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.” With increasing proportion of elderly population, the incidence of elder abuse has been increasing. This increase is common in both developed and developing countries. Elder abuse represents an extensive and serious problem, which is associated with devastating individual consequences and societal costs. Widows are a vulnerable subgroup of the population. The objective of this chapter is to examine the association between severe food insecurity and ill treatment (abusing) of elderly widows. This chapter recommends for interventions to reduce the risk of food insecurity among widows and empower their status through supportive policies and programs.
... For men, marital status had no discernible effect on the number of days spent in poor health outcomes. In patriarchal countries such as India, widower have the same social standing and access to resources as married men (Johnson & Shyamala, 2012). Thus, bereaved men get immediate treatment and proper care if they suffer from poor health, whereas widowed women often lack adequate care and treatment (Chakravarti, 1995;Lamb, 1999). ...
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The majority of research in India has focused on the impact of widowhood on health status and health care use, while little emphasis has been paid to the number of days spent in poor health among widowed population compare to other marital categories. Thus, the current study explores the relationship between widowhood and days spent with poor health outcomes among adults in India. Additionally, gender differences in the relationship between widowhood and days with poor health outcomes are further studied. The research employed nationally representative cross-sectional data from the 75th round (2017–2018) of the National Sample Survey (NSS). To investigate the associations of marital status (married vs widowed) and other factors with days spent in poor health, a negative binomial regression model was used. Additionally, the interaction model of age and widowhood was estimated separately for men and women. The findings suggest that widowed individuals had consistently prolonged days with an illness, limited activity, and confinement to bed. After adjusting for socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, the findings suggested that widowed women (IRR = 1.141, 95% Confidence interval = 1.01–1.29) were more likely to spend days with limited acitivities than married women. The marital status-age interaction indicated that older widowed women were more likely to have days of restricted activity and confinement to bed than married women, but such link is absent for men. In India, the elderly widow often spends her days confined to bed and prolonged days with limited activity. Policymakers and practitioners in public health should develop effective policies and programmes to enhance the health and well-being of widowed women, particularly those from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.
This phenomenological study was conducted in rural Rajasthan, India, to explore young widows’ lived experiences. On receipt of written informed consent, we interviewed 14 young widows. The data were analyzed in an idiographic style using the interpretive phenomenological approach. The perspective of loss and sociocultural contexts grounded the analysis. Six themes emerged corresponding to the women’s widowhood experiences: becoming a widow; entangled by customs; stigmatization; the impossible marriage; hope in widowhood; and economic deprivation. The results underline the predicaments of young widows, and these experiences are largely framed by the sociocultural and gender norms prevailing in rural communities. The study’s findings imply the need for strengthening social and legislative measures for young widows.
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The primary purpose of the present study was to assess differences in physical activity (PA), sedentary behavior (SB), and mental health (i.e., depression, suicidal thoughts, and cognitive function) by marital status (i.e., married and widowed) within an aging population in South Korea. PA, SB, and mental health were evaluated in 9092 older adults by comparing the married group (n = 5773, 73.2 ± 5.9 years, 63.5%) to the widowed group (n = 3319, 75.8 ± 6.8 years, 36.5%). Between-group differences in PA, SB, depression, and cognitive function were tested using independent t-tests, and the association between marital status and gender was evaluated using two-way ANOVA. Suicidal thoughts were analyzed using a Mann–Whitney U-test. Older adults in the widowed group participated in significantly less PA (p < 0.001) and had higher SB (p < 0.001) per week, especially the widows, who had significantly less PA (p < 0.01) and had higher SB (p < 0.001) compared to married women. Participants in the widowed group experienced more depression (p < 0.001) and suicidal thoughts (p < 0.001) and had significantly lower cognitive function compared to participants in the married group (p < 0.001). Between the two groups, widowers were more vulnerable to all mental health factors compared to those in the married group. At the same time, widows were only more vulnerable to depression and cognitive function compared to women in the married group. Findings indicated that the presence of a spouse is strongly associated with higher PA levels, lower SB, and better mental health among older adults. Spouses are the primary social supports and play a major role in the health and emotional well-being of the aging population. Given the importance of the spouse, our study suggests that health educators working with older widows should prioritize several different forms of social support to benefit their physical and mental health.
The loss of a spouse/partner is one of the most traumatic experiences in adulthood. For most people it is the loss of a friend, a confidant, a helper, a supporter, or a provider. The question then is how do you cope with such a loss, especially in developed societies where marriage trends show that people could be married for a long time until death separates them, due to a relatively higher life expectancy? Globally there are more widows than widowers, yet widows are less likely to have new partners than widowers, due to shortages of men to remarry. Following a spousal/partner loss, a serious issue of concern is emotional isolation/loneliness. Emotional isolation/loneliness is not the absence of social support; rather, it is a subjective experience that could lead to prolonged sadness.A deceased-focused approach to mourning would help in the following ways: (a) Avoid complicated or prolonged grief disorder, by transitioning away from focusing on self (the bereaved) to focusing on others ( the deceased), in grief reactions. (b) Identify and do what would be pleasing to others (the deceased spouse). (c) In being altruistic and prosocial by doing what is perceived as pleasing to others who cannot repay you, this would trigger in the bereaved intrinsic happiness and mood improvement. However, empathize with and/or taking the perspective of the deceased is required in a deceased-focused mourning.
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In preindustrial society, the loss of a spouse usually impelled the surviving party to adapt quickly by choosing between certain strategies: to remain the head of the household, to remarry, to enter a household headed by a child or the spouse of child, to dissolve the household and enter into an unrelated person's household, or to migrate out of the parish. The use of competing-risk hazard models and longitudinal microlevel data shows that demographic, socioeconomic, and gender-related factors interacted in determining the choice of strategy in a rural area of southern Sweden during the nineteenth century.
Considers Indian women's recent history from the nineteenth century under colonial rule, to the twentieth century after Independence. The author begins with the reform movement, which was established by men to educate women, and demonstrates how education changed their lives and enabled them to take part in public life. Through the women's own accounts of their lives and activities, she documents the formation of their organizations, their participation in the struggle for freedom, their role in the colonial economy, and the development of the women's movement in India since 1947.
In an attempt to understand the public and private roles of medieval women in the English countryside, historians have devoted growing attention to widows as villein tenants and transmitters of land in manorial communities. Villein women are often recorded in manorial sources as co-tenants and recipients of property rights on their husbands' deaths. Although in Common Law the widow's share ranged from one-third to one-half of a free husband's lands, the villein widow often received a right to life usage of the whole of the conjugal estate upon her husband's death as her “free bench.” The extensive property-holding rights of these villein widows have made them rich subjects for study of their legal, social, and economic status and activities. Case studies based on manorial estates, however, have often focused exclusively on the widow as a transmitter of property and have subordinated the study of widows within a framework governed by considerations of land markets and property transmission. Medieval historiography contrasts with studies of early-modern and modern populations that have put elements such as age at widowhood, number of dependents, social status, personal choice in connection with widow remarriage, and provisions for widows at the forefront of study. By connecting work on widows and the landmarket with these other concerns it is possible to study medieval peasant widows within broader comparative perspective.
Perceptions of women's intergenerational family obligations after divorce and remarriage were examined in this study. One hundred and ninety women and 93 men responded to a four-paragraph vignette about two women, either mother and daughter or in-laws, who alternately needed the other's help. Conditions in the vignette were systematically varied. Over time, the younger woman divorces and remarries. After each paragraph, respondents answered forced-choice and open-ended questions about what they thought the vignette characters should do. Participants believed that family members are obligated to help other family members in times of need, although these obligations are conditional. The obligation for the older generation to help their adult children appears to be greater than the obligation for adults to help elderly mothers and mothers-in-law, and there is a stronger obligation to biological kin than to in-laws. Perceived obligations toward stepgrandchildren are considerably weaker than obligations toward grandchildren.
The rural social situation in north India, complete with its strict social norms, joint family system, patriarchal structure, low education levels and custom of levirate received a jolt following the payment of huge sums of money as compensation to the 'Kargil widows' of 1999. Not only did it change the dynamics of rural families but the Kargil war widows came to constitute a distinct social category. Compensation accorded them a higher status in the family and society, equipped them with greater economic security, even as the prevailing patriarchal structure of rural Rajasthan continued much the same as before.
This article describes some of the abusive practices to which widows are subject, and discusses some of the possible reasons for these practices. It describes steps being undertaken at the local level in many countries to challenge abuse of widows, and change cultural perceptions of widowhood. The aim is that widowhood may have as little social or economic impact on widows as it does on widowers. The article also briefly discusses the lack of specific concern and recognition of the abuse of widows in the international human rights instruments, and recommends support for campaigns to remedy this.
I develop a theoretical framework explaining how community social context affects attitude formation via nonfamily institutions and related behaviors. Empirical tests of the framework use data from a study of the Chitwan Valley in rural Nepal. The analyses focus on attitudes toward seven aspects of marriage: child marriage, arranged marriage, intercaste marriage, mother-in-law obedience, polygyny, divorce, and widow remarriage. Regression analyses show a dramatic relationship between community social context and attitudes toward these aspects. Individuals whose childhood communities contain schools, employers, markets, and bus service hold more individualistic attitudes toward marriage. Behaviors related to these nonfamily institutions are related strongly to individualistic attitudes. Neighbors' behavior also is related to individualistic attitudes toward marriage, but much more weakly than individuals' own behaviors. I conclude that continuing increases in nonfamily institutions and related behaviors are likely to transform marriage from a family-controlled experience to an experience largely controlled by the individual.