Over the last few decades, women participation in agriculture has become more visible throughout India. They increasingly shoulder the responsibility of household activities and agricultural opportunities.
But, a recent study released by Housing and Land Rights Network, India and Prakriti Resource Centre for Women and Development unravels the reality behind the so-called celebrated face of ‘feminization of Indian agriculture’. The report highlights that the increase in number of women in agri sector is due to the rising number of farmer suicides. They are being forced to take up the farm work along with the family responsibilities.
The report highlights that the last decade more than two lakh people have committed suicide in Maharashtra. Between January and August 2016, 917 farmer suicides have occurred in the state’s Vidarbha region, accounting for 44 percent of the total number of farmer suicides in the state during that period.
The report was based on detailed household surveys conducted in four Vidarbha districts and the related research found that apart from the emotional trauma of losing their dear ones, they have to face the added stigma associated with the aftereffects of suicides and difficulty in repaying loans.
Nearly 90 percent of the women who were a part of the study said that they belonged to a joint household, indicating financial dependence on in-laws. Several women revealed being subjected to physical and emotional abuse in their marital household upon demanding their share in the family house or land. A high number of women also revealed the violence against their children.
The most crucial part of the findings of the study is that women were unaware of their family’s landholdings or their legal or inheritance rights and they are failing to secure even their rights.
The study also found that a number of agencies and individuals are working towards to address the problems of suicide affected families and the majority of them are failing to go beyond the initial procedures.
The report titled, "Surviving Stigma: Housing and Land Rights of Farm Widows of Vidharbha, Maharashtra'' was released on the International Day of Rural Women on October 15, which aims to highlight the repeated human rights violation and economic exclusion that the women face and the need for an urgent intervention from the authority.