Skip to main content

NGOs come together to rescue migrant tribal victims of sexual harassment in Gujarat

Tribal mother and daughter, rescued by NGO
By Sudhir Katiyar*
One of the key issues faced by migrant tribal community in Gujarat is the safety of the women folk. The tribal workers live in an isolated setting at the farm houses located in remote locations with no connect with the outside world except through the employer farmer. Incidents of sexual harassment of female workers are routine including extreme events like rape.
In addition to the sexual harassment faced by the female workers, another issue faced by the migrant tribal community is enticement of female workers by the farmer community males. The Patel community that employs the workers has one of the lowest sex rations leading to an acute shortage of girls of marriageable age. A recent report estimated the sex ratio in Patel community to be as low as between 650-700 against an average of 909 for the state.
This phenomenon is illustrated by a recent incident in Jaitpur taluka of Rajkot district. Bhaki Ram from Pati taluka in Badwani district of Madhya Pradesh was working at a farm in village Bheda Pipariya of Jaitpur taluka of Rajkot district for three months with his wife Punabai and nine-year old daughter Renu.
On December 15 he went back to get his other siblings, who were staying back at home, enrolled in a school. When he came back, he found his wife and daughter missing. He reported the matter to the local police station on December 22 naming his ex-employer of Parab Vavri village in Bhesan taluka of Rajkot district where he had worked earlier as the likely person to have taken away his wife and daughter. He requested that the duo be produced to know if they went of their own free will. However, the police did not take any action for three weeks.
Then Bhaki Ram contacted a local organization, the Jagrit Dalit Adivasi Sangthan (JDAS) in his home district that in turn contacted Govabhai of the Majur Adhikar Manch (MAM), a state level union of informal workers in Gujarat. MAM has been working for last six months to establish a network of grassroots organizations working in source and destination areas to form a network that can provide support to migrant workers.
Govabhai put them in touch with the Saurashtra Dalit Sangthan (SDS), Junagadh. An eight-member team from JDAS reached Saurashtra and met Devenbhai of SDS. A joint delegation went to the police station Jaitpur on January 3 demanding that an FIR be filed. 
Under pressure from the team, police the produced the farmer and missing mother and daughter in the police station on January 4. While Punabai decided to stay back with the farmer, the nine-year old daughter chose to go with the father. She was accordingly handed over to the father.
The case illustrates that it is possible to create links between grassroots organizations working in source and destination areas to provide support to migrant workers. Many of the atrocities faced by the migrant tribal community arise from the reality that the employers know that the workers have no support in areas where they are employed. Actions like this will go a long way in changing this reality and reducing atrocities on migrant workers.
---
With the Centre for Labour Research and Action, Ahmedabad

Comments

TRENDING

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Inaccurate gender-relevant data 'spoiling' government policy on Covid social impact

By Simi Mehta*  The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been different across vulnerable groups. They were hit by the pandemic at various stages, whether it was accessibility to medical treatment or financial support. The second wave witnessed human suffering at a level where one can never forget the traumatized faces of people due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of essential medical services such as hospitals beds and oxygen. The probability of the third wave has also been one of the major upcoming challenges.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Flamboyant 'demagogues' adjust politics, personality in shadow of democracy

Modi, Erdogan, Bolsonaro By Ajit Singh The terms dictators and demagogues are used interchangeably in various contexts, but there is a difference. The former rule over a totalitarian states where governments are able to exercise complete influence over every aspect of citizens’ life, whereas the latter are a "wannabe dictators" but due to the system of checks and balances they are are not fully capable to create police states.

2002 riots: Gujarat assembly 'misinformed' about dereliction of duty, says ex-DGP

By Rajiv Shah  Former Gujarat topcop RB Sreekumar, an IPS officer of the 1971 batch, has alleged that the Gujarat government gave “totally false information” on the floor of the State Assembly regarding the appeal he made to the Gujarat governor for the “initiation of departmental action against those responsible for culpable negligence in maintenance of public order and investigation of genocidal crimes” during the 2002 riots.

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

'Devastating impact': Rural workers suffer as Govt of India NREGA budget down by 34%

Counterview Desk  A civil rights group, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj stating that 34 per cent decrease in the fiscal budget of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) for year 2021-22 has added to woes on India’s rural population, already suffering from “devastating impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Catholic women warn: Kerala Bishop turning Church into puppet in political games

Counterview Desk A group of Catholic women under the banner Concerned Catholic Women of India has said that they are deeply concerned over "a bishop’s controversial statement" which may threaten communal harmony in India. As many as 89 Catholic women from across India have urged the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and its Kerala unit to take special steps to "foster peace and avoid strife."

Odisha bauxite mining project to 'devastate' life of 2,500 Adivasi, Dalit farmers: NAPM

Counterview Desk  While the public hearing on mining in Mali hills has been cancelled due to protests by Adivasi and Dalit farmers of the Mali Parbat Surakhya Samiti, Odisha, who have been protesting against the proposed bauxite mining project, India’s top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said it is “deeply concerned” at the decision of the Government of Odisha to push the project in a Schedule-V Adivasi-belt Koraput district against the interests of the people and environment.