Are Elderly Widows More Vulnerable to Abuse and Violence? Findings from Jharkhand, India

  • Sangeeta Kumari GuptaEmail author
  • T. V. Sekher


Widows are the most vulnerable segment among the elderly population of India. More than half of elderly women (aged 60 and over) are widows, but only 15% of elderly men are widowers. Elderly widows face many facets of discrimination for socio-economic and cultural reasons. Their own family members consider many elderly widows to be a burden. Based on a sample survey of 300 elderly widows and some case studies in rural Jharkhand, this study attempts to understand the social position, deprivation, and experience of ill-treatment and neglect of elderly widows. Of the elderly widows in the sample, 7% are afraid of someone in their own household. Being women, widows and elderly, they are more susceptible to discrimination and violence. Around 5% of elderly widows reported that they were physically harmed by someone in the household. Some 12% of elderly widows felt neglected or ignored by family members. Around 8% of elderly widows revealed that someone within the household was threatening them and 5% have stated that family members ignored their requests for help. Elderly widows were mostly not involved in major decision making within the family and were forced to tolerate neglect and abuse. In the absence of a social security mechanism and care-giving institutions, what is required is to ensure the provision of care, emotional support, and protection of elderly widows within the family system.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)MumbaiIndia

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