Alone: India’s Farmer Widows

India’s ongoing water crisis has driven 200,000 farmers to suicide. As water dwindles, that number grows, and farmer widows are left to pick up the pieces.


Over the past decade, India has been gripped by a devastating water crisis. Farmers make up an estimated 70 percent of the country’s population, and for them the consequences of the drought have been dire: Overwhelmed by chronic lack of water, failed crops, and growing debts, more than 200,000 farmers have committed suicide since 1997.

Their families often find them either hung or poisoned by pesticides they’ve chosen to ingest. The widows left behind struggle to support their children, working as landless laborers for as low as 100 rupees ($2) a day and battling creditors that come to collect money they claim to have lent their husbands. This slideshow features portraits of widows from Maharashtra, one of the three most suicide-ridden states in the nation. They represent only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands left behind.

Manuala Betwa, 36 years old, from the village of Pandharkawada
 

Parvata Bai Kormete, 43 years old, from the village of Bagda
 

Baishali Nikeshn, 32 years old, from the village of Sonbardi
 

Baby Loor, 52 years old, from the village of Bhonsi
 

Dhurata Atram, 52 years old, from the village of Nimin
 

Rama Thamkea, 38 years old, from the village of Sonbardi
 

Naji Rathor, 62 years old, from the village of Kosara
 

Ratna Mala, 32 years old, from the village of Mangi
 

Suman Satghare, 56 years old, from the village of Kaota
 

Biabai Lengoure, 65 years old, from the village of Sai Khera

 

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

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