In a shocking tradition, women in rural Haryana are forced to walk barefoot for 12 days to mourn a death in the family while men can wear shoes.
In villages across Haryana, including Mughalpura where Satyawan Verma lives, women are forbidden from using footwear following the death of any elder while men for twelve days, while their male relatives are exempted from this hardship.
The climate of Haryana is continental, with extremes of heat in summer which reaches above 45 Degree Celsius and sub-zero temperature in the winter. Women are made to walk bare feet irrespective of this extreme heat and cold. In most villages they must walk for kilometers everyday to fetch drinking water or in winter or collect firewood from outside their villages. As a result, many village women get broken skin and infection on their feet and toes because of walking barefoot.
However, as we see in Satyawan’s video, despite finding it hard to walk along the rough village roads without as much as a slipper, women do not question this ritual. This is because they are fed with the idea of this being the normal way to mourn a loved one’s death. Those who disagree, stay quiet because they are scared to break an age-old tradition and being the ‘fallen’ one in the eye of the community.
The strangest of all is, male members of the family are never asked to follow the rituals.
As a community member, Satyawan is aghast at this cruel treatment of women. He is determined to protect his wife and other women members of his family from the hardship of such a meaningless ritual in future.
He appeals to the viewers of this video to question this practice in different social/cultural forums, so that this cruel ritual of walking barefoot which he feels amounts to domestic violence against women can stop.