The Supreme Court has asked the Central Government to frame a scheme to promote widow remarriage to ameliorate the lives of lakhs of widows who are ousted by their families and forced to live in penury. Their remarriage, according to the Apex Court, will help integrate them back into mainstream society.
“There is no proposal for remarriage of widows, particularly of young widows. Because of the prevailing social ethos against widows, we have to encourage them to remarry. There is no such scheme framed by you in your various policies. It must be considered,” the SC bench told the Centre.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta pointed out that the initiatives taken by the government, so far, have been futile since the condition of these women remains abysmal. Most of them are dumped in Vrindavan. Some even do not have access to food and water.
“Even prisoners are getting much more than these women,” the bench said about knowing that an amount of Rs 1300 was being given to widows. The court said that the government must ensure that proper diet was provided to all widows abandoned by their family.
According to the 2011 census, India is home to 5.6 crore widows which makes India the country with the largest number of widows in the world succeeded by China that has five crore widows.
The SC advised the Centre to take some stringent measures to eliminate the social stigma attached to widowhood. Besides remarriage, it also suggested the Centre help them get rehabilitated by imparting skills that give them the freedom to earn a livelihood. This will also ensure that they don’t remain dependent on grants.
The court also decided to appoint a committee of social workers to examine all schemes framed by the Centre and to recommend further measures required to uplift the life of widows. It directed the Centre to suggest names who could be part of the committee.