An insight into an Indian woman worker’s life

no picture Bhavna_GEMConnect_Chennai_India
Member since January 31, 2014
  • 1 Post
  • Age 21

**The women's names in this post have been altered to just the first letter for anonymity.**

After a lot of heated discussions and debates about the violation of women’s rights, it suddenly struck me that maybe we were looking too far. Why not start off right at our backyard? Our school employs hundreds of women from poor backgrounds in the housekeeping department. Surely, they could tell us all about the issues and problems that they face! So we approached the head of the housekeeping department and asked for an interview with these women. He was more than glad to set it up saying that we had come to the right place. Among these women, I could notice the scars they bore – both emotional and physical – though they tried their best to cover them up. A closer look at the stoic janitor, I could perceive all wasn’t well. It seemed the same with another, and then another. Initially they were reluctant to tell us about their lives but slowly with time, they began to thaw and open up. I was more than eager to hear their story.

Most of these women are between the ages of 28 to 40. Apart from working at our school, they are compelled to work as housemaids. These women are challenged by a variety of issues on a daily basis. These span from shortage of food, poor health, taxing budgets to alcoholic husbands and abusive loan sharks. I realized that there was a similar trend in all of their cases. All of them appear to be caught in a vicious cycle. What these women earn, their unemployed husbands drown in alcohol. These drunkards end up getting into violent quarrels with other men. Also, after they return home they beat up their wives brutally, for no particular reason. Regardless of the topic in question, there is always a quarrel and physical abuse that leads to injuries, sometimes very severe. The women are forced to endure these injuries without medical care due to the fear of spiraling bills.

The scars they bore were visible, starkly contrasting with their skin. One of them had a stitch beneath her lower lip where she was backhanded while the other had a cut finger where her husband had forced her hand into a running machine. It wasn’t surprising that some of them had tried ending their lives. Ms.V. (36) told me how her drunken husband came home every night and physically and verbally abused her to such an extent that she tried committing suicide not once, but thrice!

I thought her case might be the worst. But boy, was I wrong! There was another lady who had an unemployed alcoholic for a husband who came home every night and beat her. P. (28) told me how her husband once, had forcefully hit her on the face which led to a bleeding injury. As she was wiping the blood away, he lifted her by the neck and rammed her head into the wall and also broke her hand. This didn’t end here. She further continued to say that this drove her to try hanging herself. I was just staring at her open-mouthed trying to process the inhumanness of the whole situation. These are just a few of the several cases where these hard working women are treated with contempt. All these women face so much evil while we who have the capacity to help, sit back and do nothing about it.

Apart from all the physical pain, they have to bear the financial burden of the whole family. When I asked them about additional revenue (if any), they told me that they take innumerable loans from loan sharks and invariably end up being unable to pay back the money. And these loan sharks verbally abuse them to no end.

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