The Widows of Madhubani CD and MP3
In traditional Hindu society, if a husband died, his widow was faced with an awful choice. Either throw herself on his funeral pyre and commit sati or be condemned to what amounted to a "living death" as a widow.
Widows were forbidden to remarry and treated as virtual outcasts even within their own families. The problem was even worse for those women who had been married while still children themselves. They often found themselves widowed while barely out of puberty.
The ban on widow remarriage was outlawed by the British over a hundreds years ago. And in most of India widows can and do now remarry. But in some very conservative rural areas, notably Rajasthan and the northern state of Bihar, just below Nepal, villagers still vigorously follow the old ways.
In 1987, Julian visited the market town of Madhubani where a groups of widows had banded together with outside support form Oxfam American and the Ford Foundation to fight for their right to rejoin society and be treated as full human beings. Sadly today, nothing really has changed! What was true back in 1987 is still true in the Twenty First century.