- Project Title: Scheme for Widow Remarriage (Thaali)
- Project Sector: Social Reform
- Project Location: Vanni Region of Sri Lanka
- Project Funded By: Think 2Wice Association-UK
- Total Estimated: N/A
- Beneficiary Group: Widows / Widowers from Vanni Region
- Implementing Organisation: Yarl Thinakural Karunaippalam
- Date of commencement: Mar-2016
- Date of completion : N/A
- Rationale of the Project:
- Present Position:
- Women in Sri Lanka’s north and east, home to ethnic Tamils, have faced conflict-related violence for decades, perpetrated by all parties to the conflict. Over 100,000 women were caught up in the last stages of the fighting in northern Sri Lanka from 2008 to 2009. Thousands were killed, several hundred injured and several thousand more physically and emotionally scarred. In the immediate aftermath of the war, as many as 280,000 people were put into internment camps, where families were divided and there was no freedom of movement or expression. Though some were eventually permitted to return to their homes, many of these were damaged or uninhabitable. Others were not allowed to return because of military occupation and were forcibly resettled in unfamiliar areas elsewhere. Many women are now single mothers, having lost their men to the last stages of the fighting or as they were disappeared, arrested or held in detention without charge. According to the latest figures there are an estimated 89,000 widows in Sri Lanka’s north and east alone. Many more do not know the whereabouts of the men in their families. The result is that thousands of households are now female headed: according to available statistics, 40,000 in the northern province alone.
(b).Specific Problem & Mode of intervention:
- Nearly three decades of civil war waged by successive Sri Lankan governments against the Tamil separatist left tens of thousands of women as war widows. In the North and East, it was not only the wives of separatist fighters who became war widows. Pro-government death squads “disappeared” or murdered hundreds of Tamil civilians, who were allegedly connected to the LTTE or critical of the war. Many thousands more civilians died in the murderous offensives waged by the military in the final months of the war that ended in May 2009.
- There are around 89,000 war widows. There are many young widows among them. In reality, the Sri Lankan government has washed its hands of these victims of its war. The plight of widows is worsened in conflict and post-conflict scenarios. Widows without an adult male to protect and negotiate for them, or to access services on their behalf, are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation and to rape. Many widows have had “troubles” with Sri Lankan soldiers. Soldiers who are stationed in the area just want “to have fun”. With so many women without a man, the government does not issue orders to Sinhalese soldiers to respect them and refrain from taking advantage of their situation of need. The basic precepts that allow for this constant abuse of widows have also allowed their abusers to escape punishment. Impunity for those who commit violence against widows is widespread. These widows are still living the trauma of the cruel events of the war, especially the horrible moment when their husbands died, making matters worse is a certain prejudice widows suffer from within Tamil society, for they are seen as bearers of bad luck. Women who lost their husbands are not invited to happy occasions and upper caste Tamils avoid and exclude them. War-affected women are socially and economically extremely vulnerable. They face many difficulties in their day-to-day lives, and lack of skills and livelihood opportunities prevent them from accessing secure employment. Most of them are engaged in unskilled labour on a daily payment basis. Due to this lack of security and low incomes, some poor women are pressed to engage in sex work to cover regular expenses of the family. Many reports of widows ending up in the brothels of the south have surfaced in the media recently. These widows who find themselves in prostitution face serious risks of violence, disease and social ostracism,” one report says. There is concern that the atmosphere of uncertainty, caused by lack of resources, broken families and the absence of responsible males, has impacted the security of young widows.
- Solution to the Problem: The problems of widows can be addressed in many ways. At Think 2wice; we believe that encourage the remarriage of widows one of the practical solutions. But we understand that this not easiest task in our society where widow marriage are taken as a bad practice and society don’t accept it. But, every individual has a right to live life happily without discriminations. The single women those lost their husband have also right to live life happily. When wife died the widower get married and the society accept it when widow want to get marry or some person wish to marry with widow there are restriction from the society. This is discrimination in the society that is still prevailing.
- We do believe that the only sustainable means for widows to overcome their grief is remarriage through which an adjustment process of empowerment takes place and allowing them to fulfil their basic human development needs. In these circumstances, empowerment would enable women to increase their human and economic developmental goals as defined by their families and communities. It is advisable to reorganize communities through sensitization and awareness programmes on widow remarriage. It is necessary to build social awareness and to change the mind-set of people towards widows. It is necessary to educate young widows and encouraging them to be independent and fight for their own rights. Education will give them a sense of independence and will help them become self-reliant. This will change the attitude of people towards widows and they will not be treated as parasites in the society. None of the reforms contemplated by various legislations enacted for the benefit of widows can achieve success unless and until the mind-set of the society is changed and they become more receptive to at least thinking of means to reduce the suffering of widows. Without this change in mind-set, widow remarriages will not be encouraged or accepted by our society and this problem will only continue to grow unabated.
- Mode of intervention: The social, economic and educational status plays a very important role in motivating widows to get remarried. Think 2Wice Association will work with local community social woman organisations and civil societies and implement this project through them. In this regard professional social workers would help the widows to create more awareness on remarriage. We will encourage more number of voluntary organizations to work for the encouragement of widow remarriage in rural areas and the social workers can conduct awareness program in order to create awareness among the rural women on the human rights issues, right to information, and general advocacy programs. Participatory approach will be highly suitable approach to find out the actual problems of the rural widows and forming of more self-help groups will help the community to short out the problems. Social workers should come forward to do more systematic research with innovative ideas to develop a better society. Also we will encourage academics, social activists, religious leaders, politicians to actively involved and expand this project for the benefit of the rural women by creating proving more rehabilitation programs and encouraging the widow remarriage. We have no doubt that widow remarriage project will bring a new dimension of social change in our society. We will support and closely work with our local partners to find the ways to bring a major breakthrough of widow remarriage in near future.
- Thaali: As discussed above these problems adversely affects widows in every sphere of her life. It is in this context; THINK 2WICE ASSOCIATION envisages the scheme ‘THAALI’ to encourage widow remarriage. The scheme imparts financial assistance for the widows to remarry If widow willing to remarry anyone as her choice or anyone willing to marry a widow with her consent; Think 2Wice Association will give them one LKS financial incentive including “Thaali” to support them to set up new lease of life.
- Why “Thaali”: “Thaali” in (Tamil) or Mangalyam or “Mangala Sutra” in (Sanskrit) - among Tamils and Indians is a "symbol" that signifies to the World the “Bond” into which a Man and a Women have entered into - by way of love marriage or arranged marriage - with “mutual understanding” and “mutual acceptance” of each other “as they are” (Iru Manam Sernththa Thirumanam), with further promises of "loving and caring for each other" and "in being faithful to their mutual bond in married life" - “at all times” and “under all circumstances” throughout their life time, with subsequent adjustments among themselves both giving-in to each other's "ways", "values", and "likings"- that are found rightious, and in satisfying each other's natural - biological needs from time to time, and in the creation of off-springs in continuation of their generation.
(C) Expected Project Outcomes
- On the whole, remarriages are associated with greater socio economic security and life satisfaction compared to remaining widowhood.
- ]Steady economic progress & Sustainability of income
- Poverty alleviation through income generation
- Skills and capacity of women will empowered
- Future hope will be strongly established
(D) Cost of this project:
N/A. This is ongoing project
(E) Monitoring & Evaluation:
This project being monitor and managed by our partner organisation “Karunaippalam” with other nominated local social organisations