Forgotten Woman: Docu About India’s Millions of Widows

Director-writer Dilip Mehta’s new film, “The Forgotten Woman,” is a powerful documentary about the destitution and marginalization of 20 million widows in India.

These women are forced by age-old traditions to live out their remaining years isolated from and shunned by the society at large. This staggering number almost equals the entire population of Canada.

As part of Independent Documentary Association’s DocuWeek, “Forgotten Woman” will be screened twice daily in both New York and Los Angeles. In New York, the film will appear at Village East Cinema, 189 Second Ave, New York, NY from August 8 to 14. In Los Angeles, the film will begin its run on August 22 to August 28 at the ArcLight Sherman Oaks, located at 15031 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA. Mehta and Weis will be available by telephone for interviews. Weis, along with producer David Hamilton will be in Los Angeles and available for in-person interviews.

The film explores how these widows, coerced by their families to give up their possessions, adapt to new lives in Ashrams seeking solace and greater dignity by devoting themselves to religious practices.

Inspired by the international success of Deepa Mehta’s Oscar-nominated film “Water,” which tells the story of an eight-year-old child bride, who is widowed and sent to an ashram, The Forgotten Woman examines the general status of widows today as compared to the past. Scenes highlight the enormous stigma and exploitation of widows, which prevents them from living their lives with any basic human rights.

Interviews with urban, professional and upper-class women give contrast to the rural woman and also illustrate urban society’s lack of knowledge about the number of women living in deprivation today.

In addition to exploring the lives of these women, the film also focuses on the work of a Canadian-born woman, Ginny Shrivastava who married into an Indian family and relocated to Udaipur, India. After becoming widowed, Ginny chose stay and help fight the ignorance and find ways to promote economic independence and empowerment.

The film also follows the work of Dr. Mohini Giri who has been working towards providing shelter to these women, specifically in the city of Vrindavan, home to a large migration of women from West Bengal.