Varanasi widows beg for honour

For Moti (65), who has been begging on the city roads for the last 10 years, the International Women's Day was just a routine day. Neither any Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) working for women's rights nor any government official approached her on this special day. 

Content with her daily income of about Rs 50, she is all praise for the local residents who ensure that she does not go to the bed with an empty stomach. But she does not know anything about the old age pension or the widow pension scheme launched by the government for the welfare of the poor.

Born at Mithila (Bihar), Moti was married to a Ballia-based farmer in her teens. Her husband died about 20 years ago and her relatives grabbed her property. "I remained dependent on my children for about 10 years. But I left the house as they too had started misbehaving with me," she said and added that she finally decided to settle near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. "Now the temple is my house and begging is my profession," she said.

Although the city has many volunteer organizations working to uplift women, none of them have so far extended any help to Moti or her colleagues, who are leading a similar life. Showing her filaria-affected legs, Moti said, "My income has started dwindling as I cannot walk properly." Moti is satisfied with her meager earnings. "I have full faith in God and believe that He will take care of my pain." 

However, the case of Moti and her colleagues has definitely raised questions over the functioning of the NGOs. Verma, a betel shop owner said, "Nobody is interested in helping out the needy." Local organizations flooded the city with posters and banners on the International Women's Day, but they did not initiate any steps to provide justice to these forgotten widows.