For single women in Maharashtra, owning land can be the difference between life and death | Reuters

Rajshree Gungoo, a chatty 27-year-old with a quick smile, speaks up at a gathering of about 40 women discussing the challenges facing single women in Maharashtra.”It’s very difficult. I don’t have a husband, I don’t have a son, even my father doesn’t want me,” she says, her voice breaking. “I am alone and powerless to do anything.”

She breaks off, using the end of her saree to wipe her tears. Around her, others nod and mutter.

In drought-hit Marathwada, the state’s poorest region, there is an unusually high number of single women. Some were widowed after their farmer husbands committed suicide because of debt; others were abandoned because they didn’t produce a son, while some were left behind when their husbands left to search for work.

Alone and without financial support, the women and their children are usually thrown out of home by their in-laws, denied ownership of the land they worked on and any compensation from the government.

They are also taunted and harassed by communities who believe a woman is nothing without a man.

“In this country, single women are the most vulnerable category – they are neglected by the government, by society, even their own family,” said Vishwanth Todkar, secretary at Paryay, a charity that works with marginalised communities.

“Every day, every hour is a struggle for them – to get a home, get land, even their identity cards, which are in the name of the father or the husband. They face humiliations constantly,” he said.

Source: For single women in Maharashtra, owning land can be the difference between life and death | Reuters

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