Social Scientist. v 4, no. 40-41 (Nov-Dec 1975) p. 1.


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E M S NAMBOODIR1PAD

Perspective of the Women's Movement

MORE THAN a century and a half ago, an incident took place in Bengal which throws revealing light on the women's problems in India. The reference here is to the death of Raja Ram Mohan Roy's brother, following which the widow became ^sati'. A biographer of the great social reformer narrates the incident as follows:

It is said that Ram Mohan had endeavoured to persuade her beforehand against this terrible step, but in vain. When, however, she felt the flames she tried to get up and escape from the pile; but her orthodox relations and the priests forced her down with bamboo poles, and kept her there to die, while drums and brazen instruments were loudly sounded to drown her shrieks. Ram Mohan, unable to save her, and filled with unspeakable indignation and pity, vowed within himself then and there, that he would never rest until the atrocious custom was rooted out. And he kept his vow. Before 19 years had fully elapsed, that pledge was redeemed by the Government decree abolishing sati on December 4.1829.1

Some of us may think that this is past history, never to return. Unfortunately however, in this very year of grace 1975, which is observed throughout the world as the International Women's Year, at least 2 cases of sati have been reported from north India. As in the case of the widow



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