Ritual Forces Women in Indian State Walk Barefoot
In a mindless ritual, women in India’s Haryana state are forced to mourn the death of an elderly relative by walking barefoot for 12 days, while men in the family don’t. An IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent Satyawan Verma from interior Haryana video reports on this truly unheard issue.
Of late Haryana has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. A string of evil practices such as Honor killings, Ostracizing and killing people in the name of caste etc has drawn the world’s attention to the state once known as a land of warriors.
Now, Satyawan’s video tells us of one more horrific ritual where in villages across Haryana women are forbidden from using footwear following the death of any elder. These include Satyawan’s own village Mughalpura. What’s more shocking is that while women go barefoot, their male relatives are exempted from this hardship.
The climate of Haryana is continental, with extremes of heat in summer which reaches above 45 Degree Celsius and sub-zero temperature in the winter. Women are made to walk bare feet irrespective of this extreme heat and cold. In most villages they must walk for kilometers everyday to fetch drinking water or in winter or collect firewood from outside their villages. As a result, many village women get broken skin and infection on their feet and toes because of walking barefoot.
However, despite finding it hard to walk along the rough village roads without as much as a slipper, women do not question this ritual. This is because they are fed with the idea of this being the normal way to mourn a loved one’s death. Those who disagree, stay quiet because they are scared to break an age-old tradition and being the ‘fallen’ one in the eye of the community.
If all these sound too strange to be true, here’s more – the issue has never been in Indian media which makes it as though the practice is entirely normal and unquestionable.
There’s thin silver line at the end of this though: As a community member, Satyawan is aghast at this cruel treatment of women. He is determined to protect his wife and other women members of his family from the hardship of such a meaningless ritual in future.
A small, but firm beginning indeed!