NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday expressed deep concern over the ill-treatment of the destitute women and widows living in the holy city of Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by an NGO asking the Court to look into the inhumane conditions of the widows, who were turned out of their homes and living in Vrindavan. “How can girls under 18 be married and discarded by their families if they turn widows?,” the bench asked while fixing the next hearing on November 11.
In May, the court had issued notices to the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government on a PIL highlighting the plight of the widows who beg at temples and huddling together in hovels in Vrindavan.
The NGO, in its petition, pointed out to the court that the widows, who congregate for around seven to eight hours for bhajans, get only `18 a day.
It also had told the court that a majority of the 1,000-odd widows interviewed in Vrindavan by the National Commission for Women (NCW) have children, who don’t care for them.
In a report to the top court, the statutory women’s body recommended making these children liable under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. The NCW said that an estimated 5,000-10,000 widows were living like beggars in ashrams dotting the two holy towns of Mathura and Vrindavan, adding that they are being sexually exploited. The NCW’s second report to the court said that 81 per cent of these women were illiterate. In May, the SC appointed a seven-member panel to collect data on Vrindavan widows’ socio-economic condition.