Widows to remarry in attempt to save tribe

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The Independent Online

Indian officials on the Andaman islands have arranged for four widows in the Onge tribe to remarry, in an effort to save the tribe.

In December eight men in the 100-strong population died after apparently drinking toxic chemicals which they mistook for alcohol. The officials are hoping to arrange husbands for the remaining four widows, in consultation with tribal elders.

The tribe is one of the oldest on the islands, and is thought to have been present for up to 50,000 years. But their numbers have gradually dwindled. Many are addicted to alcohol, sold to them illegally by Indian traders. Not everyone approves of the government's decision to arrange the marriages.

An anthropologist, Vishvajit Pandya, said the women would have remarried anyway without the interference of the government. "The state should not be a match-maker," he said.