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January 31, 2013

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john malpas

seems a fearful waste of widows especially if young

ajay

Yeah, I just bet the widow was entirely cooperative every time. Er, no. If it's anything like sati in India, there were a lot of cases where she was either drugged out of her mind or struggling until her last breath.

john b

While all ajay says is true, the weird thing about sati is that it was voluntary in a sizeable majority of cases ("drugged out of her mind" was obviously common, but not particularly relevant: if I'd decided when sober that I was going to burn myself alive, I'd still want to be as high as balls for the main event). Because indoctrination and the threat of social disapproval are more powerful tools than physical coercion.

a3t

I'm not sure how meaningful it is to say it was voluntary if the threat of social disapproval was a major motivation.

john b

Completely fair point, but one that absolutely ties in with what Diamond says and goes against what Ajay says.

ajay

Completely fair point, but one that absolutely ties in with what Diamond says and goes against what Ajay says.

No. What Diamond actually says is "She was not nurderously strangled against her will, nor was she pressured into this ritualized form of suicide by other members of her society." He specifically rules out social pressure.

Widows in Hindu India were treated appallingly badly, to the point where death probably did seem like a fairly acceptable alternative. And I'd like to know what happened to Kaulong widows who decided not to be strangled.

Barry Freed

I suspect "cake" was not on the menu.

john b

"Social pressure" is a bit meaningless here, since it ranges from mild disapproval to being expelled from the tribe to live as a hermit and/or die in a ditch.

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