London, Dec 17: India's 48 million widows need a government-appointed commission that will help them and protect them from abuse, says Raj Loomba, an Indian-origin member of Britain's House of Lords and a campaigner for the rights of widows.
"For extending financial and security help to these people, there must be a proper system to deliver services. A commission for widows is an ideal forum to shelter and protect widows in India," Loomba told British newspaper Asian Lite.
Panchayati Raj institutions should be at the centre of the proposed system to help widows, since they suffered mostly in rural areas "which was 70 percent part of India," said Loomba, whose Lord Loomba Foundation campaigns for the rights of widows across the world.
"In rural area, widows are abused physically, psychologically, emotionally and even sexually. In fact, they are slaves in their own homes. They are uneducated and poor. They do not know who to turn to."
Therefore, if there was a special person dedicated to listen to and address widows' complaints, it would help them enormously, he said.
"In addition, it will be a deterrent to people who abuse widows."
Loomba recently launched a project to help 5,000 widows in Vrindavan, Mathura district, in Uttar Pradesh.
His foundation is engaged in educating children of poor widows and empowering impoverished widows by providing them with vocational skills, training in tailoring, computers, hair and beauty care and hospitality sector.
It has claimed to have educated over 10,000 children and supported over 60,000 family members in 29 states in India.
Loomba said he was also seeking the help of the United Nations to alleviate the grievances of millions of widows spread across the world.
Cherie Blair, wife of former prime minister Tony Blair, is the president of the foundation.