Over 40 percent Indians think widows are discriminated against

August 18th, 2008 - 3:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) More than 40 percent of Indians feel that widows and divorced women in the country are greatly discriminated against despite there being laws to protect their rights. A survey conducted by the WorldPublicOpinion.org, a network of research centres in 22 countries studying public opinion on international issues, found that of the 17 nations surveyed, a majority of people of only two countries felt there was no discrimination against widows, while only one country’s majority said the same was true for divorced women.

On an average, across all the countries surveyed, just 28 percent people felt that there was no discrimination against widows and 27 percent felt the same about divorced women.

Said Steven Kull, director of the WorldPublicOpinion.org: “Discrimination against divorced women and widows seems to be a phenomenon across all countries, and not just in traditional cultures and people agree to it”.

The survey, which ended in June, reached across to 17,595 people in countries like China, India, the US, Nigeria, Indonesia, Russia, Mexico, Britain, France, Azerbaijan, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, the Palestinian territories and South Korea.

Coming to the Indian scenario, although there are many laws like the ones against the practice of Sati and dowry to protect the rights of women, their enforcement has always been a challenge.

This has a lot to do with the mindset of the people, as deduced by the survey. In contrast to the average global opinion of 86 percent people thinking that women’s rights are important, just 60 percent of the Indian respondents felt the same.

Then again, in contrast to the average of 80 percent of the global population thinking that a country’s government plays an important role in preventing discrimination against women, only 53 percent Indians felt so.

According to Kull, poor treatment of widows takes many manifestations.

In less developed countries, a woman has trouble securing property rights after her husband’s death while in developed nations, since women live longer, gaps in the country’s social safety net are more likely to affect them.

Amid all the negative responses, a majority of people in only two countries- Ukraine (53 percent) and Indonesia (54 percent) - felt that there was no discrimination against women in their countries.

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