Explain why the Indian practice of sati was banned.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that it became evident to many that the practice of sati was not voluntary, but rather custom appropriated in the name of tradition to lock women into doing something that they might not want to do.  The idea of women being compelled to immolate themselves with the death of their husband was an issue where government felt the need to act.  At the same time, the belief was that the self- immolation of women could not be consistent with the democratic nation that embraced the process of discussion and discourse to resolve problems and concerns.  What cannot be discounted is the idea that men were forcing women through social pressure and actually physical force to burn themselves with their husband on their funeral pyre.  The image of men keeping women in the funeral pyre fire with long poles is savage and could not be sustained. Legislation passed in the mid 1980s effectively banned the practice.  While it might be still evident in rural areas, for the most part, the banning of sati reflects how Indian society has changed over the last three decades in how it perceives women and how it seeks to embrace modernization without discrediting its traditional past.

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