Dr Laxmi Gautam
Issue: Abandoned Widows
- India has the largest recorded number of widows in the world—33 million (10 per cent of the female population, compared to only 3 per cent of men)
- Only about 10 per cent of widows marry again
- Indian society, like all patriarchal societies, confers social status on a woman through a man; hence, in the absence of a man, she herself becomes a nonentity and suffers a social death.
- In Vrindavan alone, an estimated 10,000 widows struggle to survive. Younger widows are forced into prostitution and older ones are left to beg and chant for alms from pilgrims and tourists. Older widows may have lived the greater part of their lives in these temples.
What makes Dr Gautam a Real Hero?
Even today, widows in India are abandoned and ostracized. Vrindavan is home to thousands of abandoned widows, young and old left to fend for themselves by those they called family. Dr Laxmi Gautam, a professor, takes care of these widows, providing them with a warm meal, a blanket, takes care of their medical needs and provides them the much-needed emotional care. Over the years Dr Gautam has helped bury bodies of 100s of widows who no one wants to claim.