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lives of widows revealed in The Forgotten Woman

April 23, 2008

The stories and images raise a powerful call for change.

— Lynne Fernie, HOT DOCS

Pretty much guaranteed to knock your doc socks off!

— Vanessa Farquharson, National Post

To empathize with the complexity of widowhood and to understand the basic denial of Human Rights in my country is difficult, but to come to terms with all that it represents is harder still. As a male director/cameraperson I found myself steeped in guilt and almost always apologizing in silence each time we became a part of a widow’s life in The Forgotten Woman.

— Dilip Mehta, director, The Forgotten Woman

The Forgotten Woman
90 minutes
opens in Toronto and Vancouver April 25

The Forgotten Woman was made in response to a film by Dilip Mehta’s sister, Deepa.

Water was set in 1938, and followed the fate of eight-year-old child bride Chuyia. She is widowed, sent to live in an ashram, and expected to live there for the rest of her life with other widows.

Many people who saw Water contacted Deepa Mehta to learn what happens to such women in India today.

This documentary is the answer.

A group of widows from the Association of Strong Women Alone (astha) | photo: Noemi Weis

Dilip Mehta wants us to know about the present destitution and marginalization of many of the millions of widows in India today. They are women who are still forced by age-old traditions to live out their remaining years isolated from and shunned by the society at large.

The film shows how widows are pressured by their families to give up everything. Their new lives are in ashrams and in the streets. All that is left to them is devoting themselves to religious practices that have been around for centuries.

The Forgotten Woman aims to create greater awareness of the numerous and widespread issues surrounding women’s search for economic independence, and how this effort relates to dignity, self-sufficiency and basic human rights.

The film also explores the work of a Canadian woman named Ginny Shrivastava. After marrying a man from India, she moved to Udaipur.

Ginny Shrivastava (left), founder of the Association of Strong Women Alone | photo: Noemi Weis

When her husband died, she stayed in India, and dedicated herself to end the unjust treatment of widows, and find ways to promote economic independence and empowerment.

Ginny’s remarkable work brings about positive changes for women who previously had decided to live the rest of their lives waiting to die.


Filmmaker Dilip Mehta finds hope in telling widows’ stories, by SUSAN WALKER, Toronto Star | April 22, 2008
The Association of Strong Women Alone, Ginny Shrivastava
Digging Deepa, by ANDRE MAYER, | November 3, 2005


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