ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Public Health System Is Failing the Women Farmers

Maharashtra, with its drought-prone areas, is one of the states with the largest number of male farmer suicides. In the aftermath of these suicides, women farmers struggle on multiple fronts. A poor public health system further fails them and aggravates their plight.

This article has been written on behalf of the MAKAAM network. The authors would like to acknowledge the valuable inputs given by the anonymous reviewer.

Maharashtra is counted amongst the states with the largest number of farmer suicides in the country. As per the statistical data of the National Crime Records Bureau, about 65,000 farmers killed themselves in Maharashtra between 1995 and 2015. Around 20% of the total farmer suicides in the country have taken place in Maharashtra. Fourteen districts from Vidarbha and Marathwada have been declared as suicide-afflicted districts. About 90% of the farmers who committed suicide were male. A large number of suicides by the male farmers in Maharashtra also implicate an increase in number of women farmers from suicide-affected households.

After suicide by her husband, a woman faces problems at three levels. Getting over the trauma of her husband’s death, repaying the debt, and single-handedly taking over the responsibility of running her household. In addition to this, she faces the stigma of widowhood, leading to discrimination in family as well as in larger society. Suicide by a male farmer changes the social relations within the family. As widows, women are left fending for the children and the elderly of the family, and have to deal with the harassment of debt collectors. Additionally, they are also trying to cope with drought, crop failures and the burden of expenses of education of their children, marriages of their daughters and also face the catastrophic expenses of medical care of the family.

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Updated On : 26th Jun, 2020
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