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Jaipur blasts aftermath: Victims of social taboos

Vicky Nanjappa | September 01, 2008 11:35 IST

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Jaipur [Images] had been rocked by a series of attacks in which nearly 68 persons lost their lives and scores of others were injured.

The media spared no effort in hyping this incident too, but as the days passed and the cameras left the Pink City of India everything calmed down.

However, for some life changed drastically and unfortunately for them the scars of the terror attackĀ on May 13, 2008, will remain forever.

In Jaipur, 22 families lost their husbands and fathers and ironically, these persons were the sole earning members.

Kavita Srivastava, general secretary People's Union for Civil Liberties, told that they had conducted a study on 42 households. This high percentage of women being left without their main earner is a cause of serious concern and planning of state victim rehabilitation should focus on this area, she said.

A total of 55 children are now dependent on their mothers, who must now act as head of the household while more than 46 children are of schooling age and 10 are between the ages of 18 and 24. Seven families children have already been withdrawn from school. Of the seven families, five have totally withdrawn girls from school and they will therefore be denied schooling.

PUCL further points out that the bereavement of women following the blasts has denied children their mothers and it was shocking to learn that more than 10 children are motherless now. These children are presently staying with grandparents, uncles, aunts and some with their fathers.

In the aftermath of the horrific Jaipur blasts, the first thing that was noticed was the condition of the widowed women who have been shattered economically, socially and psychologically.

They are now the victims of the most horrendous, regressive, age-old social taboos that have been prevalent in our society for centuries. There are mixed feelings, those of aggression, depression and silence. These are the most lethal silences, since there is nobody to blame, since nobody knows who was behind these blasts.

More than 23 per cent of the women who had lost their husbands are in a state of depression. Only three, or around 15 per cent of the women have their own homes, 14 or 63.6%, are residing in shared households of their in-laws and a further four residing at their natal homes.

All the widows save one have collected Rs 5 lakh compensation. In one case, the matter is being contended in the civil court, because the in-laws prevented a separated daughter-in-law from collecting compensation. However, despite the compensation being released and collected, major disputes are prevalent. One case study has been given below.

The case study of Rekha [Images] Paswan is one of the most distressing cases that have emerged from the study. Sanjeev Paswan, one of those who died in the blasts, was a poor migrant from Bihar and worked as a rickshaw puller. He was the only earner, and it was upon him to provide for his wife, two very young children, elderly parents and three brothers, one of whom was married. Naturally, there were many who suffered in the aftermath of the blasts within this particular family.

On speaking to the parents of the deceased, the impression was given that the wife of the deceased would continue living with her in-law and that there was no dispute over compensation.

However, a telephone conversation with the widow revealed that out of the Rs 5 lakh compensation, Rs 4 lakh had been put in fixed deposit in the children's name against her wishes. She was, however, made one of the nominees for the FDs.

The amount she will receive for herself is a mere Rs 50,000, yet to be acquired. She also revealed that she does not get along with her in laws, and she will not remain in her marital home.

The study further shows that 71 per cent of the men who died were earners of the family, of which 11 were the sole earners of joint and nuclear families.

Further, it is even more distressing to learn that 19 per cent of the households clearly stated that the food consumption had declined. Some of them had stopped giving breakfast to their children and some had even stopped the daily glass of milk for their children.

The blasts have also had its effects on elderly parents, aunts and uncles who were dependent on an earner killed in the blast.

More than half the families or 21 surveyed provided for elderly persons who had also lost direct economic support.

Thriteen of these were women and 15 men. Ten of the elderly persons lost their only source of support and six mothers lost their sons, upon whom they were dependent. Furthermore, over 10 families had other dependents; sisters, aunts, or nephews and nieces who had lost their direct bread winner.

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