Skip to main content

Women farmers' suicides in India are under-reported, "conveniently" manipulated

Counterview Desk
A factsheet on women from farm suicide affected households, prepared by Seema Kulkarni of the Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch (MAKAM), a civil rights advocacy group, has said that more than three lakh women farmers in India have been left to fend themselves after their husbands committed in avout two decades time years since mid-1990s. Their situation becomes even more vulnerable as they are not recognized as farmers but merely as housewives.

MAKAM note on women farmers' suicide:

As per official data of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 332,798 farm suicides have taken place in India between 1995 and 2016, with 94% of these being of men. 19,968 female farmer suicides have been counted into this reporting. This means that 312,830 women in these households have been suddenly left to fend for themselves, and manage the home and the farm. These official numbers are of course quite under-reported and conveniently-manipulated, compared to what might be the real situation out there.
Invisibilisation of women as farmers has also meant that the very high number of suicides that are recorded as ‘suicides of housewives’ go unrecorded as female farm suicides since there is no rural urban categorization in the NCRB’s Annual Report on Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India (ADSI).
While the matter of reportage of incidence and prevalence of farm suicides is a matter of contention, with government agencies accused of manipulating the data, the matter of female farmer suicides is also very contentious and is hardly articulated.
This is all the more so given that women are simply classified as ‘housewives’, especially in an unpaid work setup, which many women farmers are caught in. Women farmers are not recognized as farmers even in their death by suicide, given that they are often landless or the household’s land is not in their name.
Surviving stigma and debt: Those that are left behind are left to face stigma and debt. It is often seen that the woman farmer has to bear the brunt of accusations that she might have triggered the suicide by the spouse. Along with dealing with a personal loss, she has to also deal with the financial liabilities and the outstanding loans.
Poor social security support from the state: Delays in extending paltry ex-gratia payments, sanctioning of widow pensions, extending food security benefits, support for children’s education and health care are some of the major concerns reported by women from these households.
Violence and sexual harassment: Whether it is to access social welfare benefits for which they are eligible or to claim their rights over property, women have consistently reported sexual harassment and violence meted out to them to avail of their entitlements.
Denial of land rights: The process of transfer of land titles in the name of widows has been extremely lethargic. While families resist transferring titles in the name of the widow, especially a childless one or one without a male heir, the state on its part is not proactive in ensuring that land titles are transferred, debts are cleared in order to enable the woman to get back to being able to support herself and the family.
Continuing with the same unsustainable farming paradigm: Most of these women are rendered as wage labourers either on their family farms or outside. With no land in their names, they are unable to continue farming. The family on the other hand often continues with the same unsustainable paradigm of farming, in the absence of any state support.
MAKAAM calls for one comprehensive overarching policy for women from farm suicide affected households.

Comments

TRENDING

Young environmentalist's arrest 'sinister', even parents not told of her whereabouts

By Our Representative  The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India (CEJI), a civil society network, has said that it is “highly disturbing” that Disha Ravi, a young woman climate activist from Bengaluru was “picked up” in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” of the Delhi police. Disha, 21, has been remanded to police custody for five days after she was taken from Bengaluru to Delhi.

Mukesh Ambani's earnings during Covid 'can lift' 40% informal workers out of poverty

By Dr Gian Singh*  The Inequality Virus Report released by Oxfam, a non-profit organization, on January 25, 2021 on the growing inequalities in different parts of the world, sheds light on the growing economic, educational, healthcare and gender inequalities in India. The report has revealed that the wealth of billionaires has increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown period in the country.

US forensic revelation enough evidence to release Sudha Bharadwaj, others: Civicus

Counterview Desk  Civicus, a Johannesburg-based global alliance of civil society organisations and activists claiming to have presence in 175 countries with 9,000 members and working for strengthening citizen action, has sought immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in 2018 under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

Evolution of Sardar Patel's understanding of those 'involved' in Gandhi's assassination

By Shamsul Islam*  As the world mourns the 73rd anniversary of MK Gandhi's assassination by Hindutva terrorists on January 30, 1948, RSS, the most prominent flag-bearer of Hindutva politics, whose cadres rule India today, is found reacting angrily to the reality – that the criminals who assassinated Gandhiji were not only part of the ideological world-view of Hindu Mahasabha (led by VD Savarkar) and RSS brand of Hindu nationalism but were also connected with these. 

No Election Commission safeguard against electromagnetic hacking of EVM: Study

Counterview Desk  Releasing a new study simultaneously in Chennai and Kolkata in view of the forthcoming elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, the Citizens’ Commission on Elections (CCE) – a civil society initiative – has regretted “lack of integrity of EVM voting”, pointing out, the Election Commission of India (ECI) does not appear to safeguard against the possibilities of ‘side-channel attacks’, i.e, hacking electronic devices through electromagnetic and other methods.

20% of FIRs against journalists in 2020 alone, targeted attacks in 2021 'too many to count'

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls “alarming rise in state repression and clampdown on news outlets and journalists” that “expose” the anti-people nature of the establishment, India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has demanded “immediate release of arrested journalists, withdrawal of arbitrary charges and protection of media persons facing threats.”

Top academic claims he warned farmer leaders of Hindutva plot on Jan 26 morning

By Shamsul Islam* The photographs here show a Hindutva protagonist, Deep Sidhu, with his real masters. He is said to be the culprit who tried to derail the historic farmers' struggle by putting up a religious flag at Red Fort on January 26, with no Delhi police which works under the Indian home minister Amit Shah, a senior RSS cadre who is often described 'Iron Man' by Hindutva camp-followers. 

'Viability' of agricultural cooperatives vs govt proposed pro-corporate economic model

Dr Gian Singh* The farmer struggle started from Punjab against the promulgation of three agricultural ordinances by the Union government in June 2020 and the enactment of three bills by Parliament in September 2020 to replace these ordinances is unique in many respects. There is no other example of such a peaceful and democratic farmer struggle.