India: Child Marriage survivors also face further hardship and abuse due to early widowhood Print E-mail

 Saturday June 24 2017, page 4


Child marriage victims endure widowhood too

By Swathi Vadlamudi

HYDERABAD: Alcohol, accidents claim lives of young men

The link between child marriage and early widowhood could never be starker. Almost all the women who attended a meeting at the International Widows Day on Friday at L.B. Stadium, were victims of child marriage and eventually loss of partner.

Dubarla Yadamma, who was from Katryal village of Wardhannapet mandal in Warangal district, lost her husband to an accident 11 years ago, at the age of 18. She had already been married for six years and was pregnant with a boy after birth of two girls.

“My in-laws brought pressure on me to leave home without my girls and get the foetus aborted. They even offered Rs. 2 lakh, but I refused and stay put in the house. Even now, my children and I have to face a lot of harassment and discrimination,” Yadamma said.

From her village with over 200 families, there are 50 women who lost their husbands at very young age. Most of the men in their productive years succumbed to alcoholism and accidents.

Komuramma alias Lusamma, also from Wardhannapet mandal, lost her husband 10 years ago to liver cirrhosis. She was married at 15 and had five children before her husband died.

“He was employed by the village panchayat for sewer cleaning. After each day’s work, he would drink or he couldn’t sleep,” she recalled. She works as farmhand now.

Alcoholic husband was the reason for early widowhood of Chaganti Sammakka too from Thimmapur village of Warangal. Her husband, who was a farmhand was heavily into drinking and left her with two sons, one mentally unsound.

Though cheap liquor has been controlled after the Telangana Government cracked the whip against it, that has resulted only in increased sales of ‘brand’ liquor, the women say.

The meeting had widows mostly from Warangal and Mahbubabad districts, as the organisation ‘Bala Vikasa’ which organised the event is active there.

The women are also subjected to severe discrimination and abuse, which is so internalised by them that they are unmoved by it.

“Nobody invites us to any auspicious occasion. I cannot attend the functions of my own children,” says Yadamma, with a tinge of sadness, while B. Somakka from Brahmanakothapalli village of Mahbubabad district does not see why the custom should be opposed. She even calls herself a ‘munda’ which is an abusive word in Telugu for widow.

“Why would people invite us to weddings? We are widows!” she exclaims.

“We have to face abuse often in our daily lives. We have learnt to ignore, or else we cannot live,” says Sumalatha, another young widow.

The meeting has demanded a corporation for widows, reservations in education and jobs for children of single mothers and a law against discrimination and abuse.