Social Support and Coping Mechanism of Destitute Widows in Nagapattinam District, Tamil Nadu

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J. Pushpakokilam, Dr. K. Suriyan


Widows in a society like India with its stringent social norms governing them at various stages of their lives, encounter fundamental changes in their socio-ritual status that can be far different and disturbing compared to their husband’s pre-death phase. Besides emotional loss, their experiencing consequent neglect by family members is a major issue to be considered. A low social status apart, an important dimension of widows’ lives is their poor economic condition. Considering that many of them are from poor and middle class families that are numerically larger than affluent families besides many being engaged in non-productive or menial jobs, widowhood thrusts a burden in terms of dependence on others. Lacking in economic resources, many of them live in abject poverty to lead a life of a destitute. Widows’ perceptions about their life whether difficult or manageable are associated more with various socio-cultural events that occur in the lives of widows that influence the way they view their own life in terms of old age and widowhood, a journey into the realm of uncertainties. The socio-economic status of widows reveals that many widows lead a life of challenges with varied implications for their lives. It is observed that they encounter financial constraints along with a low legal access to economic property. Socially, widows lead a life of dependency, totally or partially. They also lack a full control over the household decision-making process unless they have some hold on the economic resources.A South African feminist namely Bernadette Mosala quotes “When men are oppressed, it is a tragedy, when women are oppressed, it is a tradition”.

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