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Water: Widows of India May 11, 2006

Posted by June in Blog, Other, Religion, Women's Issues.
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I just watched a movie called Water. It’s a Hindi film with English subtitles by 20th Century Fox about the plight of widows in India. We had to go to an independent film theatre in the ritzy part of town to see it because they aren’t showing it at the Bollywood theater. This film has been banned in India.

You live in a country like the US; and you just never get to see how women are treated in other societies. You don’t realize how truly blessed you are to live in a country that has had the influence of Christianity on the culture and laws. I’ve been to India. It’s nothing like living there; but it was no happy little trip, especially since I spent most of the time sick in the bathroom or….um…throwing up in a corner of one of their monuments because we weren’t near a bathroom… *cough cough* Oops.

The movie was set in 1939 when Ghandi was around; but the end of the film confirmed that widows are still living in deplorable conditions in the 21st century because the Holy Texts of Manu declare it to be so.

According to the movie, widows have three choices:
1. Burn with their husbands when he is cremated.
2. Live the rest of her life unmarried and deprived.
3. If the family allows for it, marry her husband’s younger brother.

The movie begins with the death of a 9-year-old girl’s elderly husband (Ugh. *shudder*). The girl is then sent to an ashram for widows after her hair is shaved and she is dressed in widow’s clothes. Most, if not all, of these women were married off at extremely young ages. These women are not supported by anyone. They are not even given a place to live. They have to rent this barren shack that they live in. They get the money by begging and, in the case of, at least, one girl, by sending her off as a prostitute to some sick old men. These women are shunned and looked down on by everyone.
The story follows the little girl named Chuyia and the young woman who is has to be a prostitute to earn money named Alysha…(Don’t hold me to that spelling. I forgot how to spell it.). They meet a nice young man who falls in love with the young woman.

Things aren’t as bad as that in Chinese countries; but they aren’t extremely great either. Girls are still viewed as burdens that “take rice from the bowl.” And we all know how women are treated in Muslim countries, especially the ones that are strict adherents. Did you know that in the entire Koran that only one woman is actually named? The rest are referred to as so-and-so’s wife or the mother of so-and-so. Did you know that, if a girl is raped, she is viewed as a disgrace on the family and is often killed?

In fact, the only countries in the world that give women respect are the countries that have been greatly influenced by Christianity, the West. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Psalms 68:4-6
4 Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds– his name is the Lord– and rejoice before him. 5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

Malachi 3:5
5 “So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

1 Corinthians 7:8-9
8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

James 1:27
27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

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Comments»

1. Liat - May 29, 2006

It is true that in many eastern cultures woman are not treated well, but this is NOT because the religious texts make it so. In the Koran It does state some confusing things about women but it also states that if a woman feels that she is being treated unfairly by her husband she may go to the community for help. You must read more into the Koran before you make generalizations of Islamic culture.

2. June - May 29, 2006

You are right. I have not read all of the Koran myself. I have read bits and pieces of it; but I have not read it myself.
That is why I referred to the way that women are actually treated in real life rather than referring to the Koran. If the Koran truly uplifts women or, at least, does not put them down, then either Muslim men have no regard for the Koran when it suits them or the Koran truly is not as nice to women as people say.
Not to mention the fact that Muslim women, obviously, did not know the Koran for so long since only recently have there been some stirring of Muslim women for rights.
Here is something interesting to look at.
Top ten rules in the Quran that oppress and insult women
Here is another interesting article:
The Ethics of Islam Seen from a Christian Point of View   

3. Smita - June 7, 2006

Its completely untrue that only Christian countries treat women with respect. In fact the Adam and Eve story clearly shows the sexism inherent in Christianity as well. Also there is no goddess figure in Christianity while in Hindu culture there are many goddesses. Aside from this it is important to understand that India is a complex and highly populated country with various cultures and traditions within it. Even within India women are both revered and humiliated in different contexts and by different segments of the population. For instance, the Nair community of southern India is classified as matriarchal. A lot of women work and and participate actively in politics there. Its just that there are very ignorant and sexist segments of the population. There is a lot of room for improvement and education there. This does not mean that every American or western person who sees this movie needs to get on their high horse and claim that Christianity is the answer to every problem. After all, what were those great ( Christian) English people doing to solve these problems? Not very much. The plight of widows has only considerably improved after India got its independence.

4. June - June 16, 2006

(I have no idea why these comments keep getting lumped into the moderation folder. I have it set to not do that.)

It’s true that I’m sure that not all women are treated with disrespect. That is the problem with mass labeling, you get small sections of exceptions that people immediately jump up to point out.

What the problem is is that these ordinances are permanently ingrained in the Holy Texts of Manu. Are you going to change these ordinances at the risk of preventing these women from being reborn as higher beings?

As for the English not doing anything, as I hear it, the English outlawed the practice of burning widows alive with their husbands, one of the options in the Texts that, it seems, was often forced on women. In fact, this fact was clearly stated in one of your other Bollywood films called Mangal Pandey (I think I spelled that right….).

Also prominent in that film was the policy of the East India Company to not force people to change their religious practices, which subsequently was violated in that movie when the Company issued the Indian troops under them cartidges that were dipped in pig and cow fat.

Somehow I don’t think you would be happy if the English had tried to force religious regulations on you or require you to convert to Christianity.

As for Adam and Eve, do you really even know that story?
I think I’ll do something indepth on that story…. Stay tuned.

5. lawton - July 9, 2006

Nice site design & header.

6. s - March 18, 2008

theres a mistake. the young girls name is not alysha. its kalyani. at least it is that in the version that i watched

7. An Actual Christian - April 25, 2008

Self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitudes like yours is what gives us other Christians a bad name. You should be ashamed. If you had done any research on our religion, it was filled with thousands of years of hate, murder, racism,and sexism and that same hate and hypocrisy lives on today even in the “Christian influenced” countries like the U.S.A. The KKK is a prime example. So stop thinking that since you’re Christian that you’re so much better than anyone else, because that’s a very un-Christian-like thing to do! God bless because you’re gonna need it.

8. Zuber - October 5, 2008

I pray for God help you with your ignorance!

9. Amelia - October 18, 2011

chinese countries? are you kidding me? how many chinese countries do you know?

10. mary - May 10, 2014

Chinese countries…..China.. is one country…

11. Darell - January 3, 2015

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