India (MNN) — International Widows Day is observed on June 23. It’s a day to be reminded of how Jesus wants these women to be treated: with respect and love.
In some countries, sadly, widows aren’t treated that way. They’re actually seen as a burden, even a curse.
“There are very different cultural aspects in every country, at how widows are treated and how they continue with their lives after they’ve lost their spouse. It’s not the same as the United States,” says Donna Glass of India Partners.
Widows in India
India is one of the countries that see widows as a curse.
“There’s an understanding or belief in India that…it’s because of [widows] that their husbands died–that they killed their husbands.”
For widowers in India, they are allowed to marry many times. Some men marry a month or so after their previous wife passed away.
But it’s not the same for women. “India has a belief that the widows should not remarry. No one would want to marry a widow because she caused the death of her husband,” Glass says.
In fact, only 1 in 100 widows remarry.
Some of the older widows depend on the care of their children, but they have little to offer because the government only provides so much.
Their way of supporting these women is by giving them approximately 300 rupees a month, which is equal to about $5.
“They talk about the poverty level being $1.25 or less a day. $5 a month is much less than $1.25 a day,” Glass says.
As a result, these women become a burden on their sons or daughters. There are hardly any retirement homes to go to.
“The homes that do exist are very costly,” she says. “The free ones stink. Moreover, the sons will not allow the widowed mother to go to a Retirement Home as it is ‘Below their dignity.’”
For young widows, life is even harder. They have young children to feed and no way to provide. They become desperate. “The mothers oftentimes will become day laborers, or they may actually go into prostitution to earn a living,” Glass says.
“They want to provide for their children because they care and love about them. They have no other skills to provide a living for themselves.”
What’s being done?
Churches do pray for these women, but Iris says that’s all they do. “Of course prayer is important…. But [they] would not have visited them even once with a small packet of biscuit!” she says.
That’s why India Partners stepped up to the plate and created a widow’s sponsorship program.
“It’s very unique in Malkangiri…. We are the only people who have a widows sponsorship program,” Glass says. “Our widows sponsorship program, at $35 a month, provides them with an opportunity to purchase more.”
This program is carried out through local churches so widows can learn about Jesus and how He cares for them deeply. Through this sponsorship, widows make deep connections and learn to give their financial burdens to Jesus.
There are millions of widows in India, and India Partners could use your help with this program. Help India Partners as they transform lives of widows and share the good news of Jesus.
Remember International Widows Day June 23!