Official Website of CSI Parish Kattakada, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Official Website of CSI Parish Kattakada, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
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Women’s Liberation

When the society in India was controlled by the caste hierarchy, the mighty people among the upper castes ruled the land. There was no consideration for the poor and those who have been affected by chronic diseases, even though they belonged to the upper classes. Poverty and disease were viewed as the result of the sins committed during previous births (karma). Widows were not accepted by the society. Women always enjoyed an inferior status.

The prevalent social customs justified un-touchability, oppression of women and any means needed to retain the social hierarchy which is supremacy of Brahmins. Sati was a practice in which a widow was burnt alive along with the corpse of her husband while he is cremated. The practice is believed to have been instituted to prevent the widow from claiming the property of her husband. It was widely prevalent in major parts of the country. These inhuman atrocities against women shook the conscience of William Carey who raised his voice against this practice and created a debate among the intellectuals in India. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who was already shattered by young adolescent experience of his sister-in-law being thrown into the funeral pyre of her husband, became a strong advocate for abolition of Sati under the influence of William Carey. It was outlawed in 1829 by William Bentick the British Viceroy of India.
Widow re-marriage was the issue that cropped up naturally. As the widows were allowed to live by law, this should have been addressed. The widows lived a secluded life tied within the bounds of their house. Often, they were ridiculed as the reason for their husband’s death. In their old age, they were left in holy places like Kashi to die. There, they had to beg for their food. Their life was as good as death. The missionaries started to encourage widow re-marriage. Hindu intellectuals like Ishwar Chndra Vidyasagar took up this issue, and soon it became a social movement by the second half of the nineteenth century.