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February 3 / 4, 2007
Up at 4 AM, Home at 11 PM
They Take the Early Train
Revantabai Kamble has not spoken to her six-year-old son for months.
They live in the same house in Tiroda, of course.
It's the same with Buribai Nagpure — though she might sometimes see her older boy if he's awake.
Both women are among hundreds in this part of Maharashtra's Gondia district who spend just four hours a day at home and travel over 1,000 km each week — to earn Rs.30 daily. [68 US cents.]
It's 6 a.m. when we accompany the women from their homes to the railway station.
Most have been up two hours already.
"I've finished the cooking, washing, sweeping and cleaning," says Buribai cheerfully.
"So now we can talk."
No other member of her household is awake when we arrive.
"Poor things," she says, "they're tired out."
Isn't Buribai tired out, too?
"Yes, but what to do? We have no options."
Up at 4 AM, Home at 11 PM
They Take the Early Train
AAt the station are many other women without options.
They are also unusual in one sense: these are not migrants from village to city.
They are footloose workers from an urban setting seeking work in the villages.
This search takes them from moffusil towns — Tiroda is a tehsil headquarters — to toil as agricultural labour in the villages almost every day of their lives.
[Each tehsil is part of a larger District within a State or Union Territory. Editors]
Spending up to 20 hours away from home daily.
There are no weekend offs and no jobs in Tiroda.
"After the beedi industry went," says Mahendra Walde, "it is impossible for them to find work here."
Mr. Walde is district secretary of the Kisan Sabha in Gondia.
[Beedi is an indigenous cigarette in which tobacco is rolled in a tendu leaf and tied with a cotton thread.]
Up at 4 AM, Home at 11 PM
They Take the Early Train
Many of the women live five or more kilometres from the railway station.
"So we have to be up by 4 a.m.," says Buribai.
"We finish all our work and walk to the station by seven."
That's when the train comes in and we clamber on with the group that will go to Salwa in rural Nagpur.
The 76-km journey takes two hours.
On the platform and in the train are more women, weary-eyed, hungry, half-asleep.
Most sit on the floor of the crowded train, leaning against the carriage wall, trying to snatch some sleep before their station arrives.
"We will reach home at 11 p.m.," says Revantabai.
"We sleep by midnight. And start all over again at 4 a.m. the next morning.
I have not seen my six-year-old awake in a long time."
Then she laughs: "Some of the much younger children may not recognise their mothers when they do see them."
Their children have either dropped out of school because they cannot afford it.
Or perform poorly there.
"There is no one at home to watch or help," points out Buribai.
And some of the youngsters are themselves doing any work they find.
"Naturally, they do badly at school," says Lata Papankar, a teacher based in Tiroda.
"Who can blame them?"
It appears the Government of Maharashtra can.
The performance of these children is held against the schools, which might lose funds.
And against teachers trying to help them, who might be penalised for poor results.
An approach that will further erode their chances of going to school.
Misdirected drive for a chemicals hub
West Bengal
Seated on the rocking floor of the train, Shakuntalabai Agashe says she has been doing this for 15 years.
The only breaks come during festivals or the monsoon.
"For some kinds of work," she says, "we may be paid Rs.50.   But that's rare.   Mostly it's Rs.25-30."
There are no jobs in their towns, say the women.
The money there is has flown to the cities.
The industries there were have closed down.
The moffussil towns are in decay.
Almost all these women found work with the beedi industry in the past.
"When that went we were finished," says Buribai.
"Beedi is a footloose industry, ever in search of cheaper labour," says K. Nagaraj of the Madras Institute of Development Studies who has worked on the sector.
"It shifts base quite quickly.   The human consequences of such shifts are devastating.   And have gone up these past 15 years."
A lot of beedi work "has gone off from Gondia to Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh," says Pradeep Papankar of the Kisan Sabha.
Up at 4 AM, Home at 11 PM
They Take the Early Train
"Of course we do not buy tickets to travel on the train," the women say.
"A round ticket would cost more than the Rs.30 we earn. Our system is simple: if we get caught, we pay the checker a bribe of Rs.5."
Ticket revenue has been privatised. "They extort it from us knowing we can't afford it."
"My older boy drops me at the station on his cycle sometimes," says Buribai.
"Then he stays there looking for any work, whatever the pay. My daughter cooks at home. And my second boy takes the meal to his brother."
In short, says Mr. Walde, "three people are working for the wage of one."
But all five family members together, including her husband, often make much less than Rs.100 a day.
Some days, just two of them may have earned anything at all.
They do not have a BPL ration card.
Fields are also in trouble
At stations along the way are labour contractors, waiting to pick up workers on the cheap.
Reaching Salwa around 9 a.m. we set out a kilometre to the village and a further three km into the fields.
Buribai does that last stretch with a huge vessel of water perched on her head, yet outpaces all of us.
Those on whose fields they labour for a pittance are also in trouble.
The agrarian crisis has hit landowner Prabhakar Vanjare badly.
He owns three acres and has taken ten on lease.
"Prices are terrible, we earn almost nothing," he complains.
And resident labour in the village has migrated elsewhere in despair.
Hence the coming of these women.
This is eastern Vidharbha, away from the troubled cotton belt.
Mr. Vanjare grows paddy, chilli, and other items. Right now, he just requires the women for weeding work.
They work till about 5-30 p.m. and get back to the station an hour later.
"But the train only comes in by 8 p.m." points out Buribai. "So we will reach Tiroda only around 10 p.m."
Their families are asleep when the women get home.
And asleep when they leave in the mornings.
"What family life can there be," asks Revantabai.
By the time they reach home, they have travelled over 170 km.
And will do that every day of the week — to earn Rs.30.
"We'll be home by 11 p.m." says Buribai, "to eat and sleep."
Until four hours later, when they have to get up and do it all over again.
Tuesday, 10 April 2007
Assam's missing women and the sex trade
Assam girls in police station

Many of the missing women end up like these alleged arrested call girls.
Assam girls in police station.
Many of the missing women end up like these alleged arrested call girls.
The biggest problem in India's north-eastern state of Assam is separatist militancy.   But it faces another, less well known issue.   Thousands of its women, old and young, have gone missing over the past 10 years.
A recent police report says 3,184 women and 3,840 female children have gone missing in the state since 1996.
That's around two females a day on average.
The report was compiled by Assam police and their research branch, the Bureau of Police Research and Development.
The local police are far too busy, according to Assam police intelligence chief Khagen Sarmah, fighting insurgents.
"Our counter-insurgency commitments affects our normal policing duties like checking trafficking."
"Too many policemen are involved fighting the insurgents rather than following up on other crimes," Mr Sarmah said.
'Good looking women'
The Assam police recently rescued some girls working as call-girls around Delhi or used as "sex slaves" by wealthy landlords in states like Punjab and Haryana.
Most of them are from camps of internally displaced people dotting Assam, particularly the Kokrajhar district.
Hindi speaking migrants leaving Assam.

Many people in Assam have fled the area due to the fighting.
Hindi speaking migrants leaving Assam.
Many people in Assam have fled the area due to the fighting.
That area is home to nearly a quarter of a million people who were displaced in the late 1990s.
Nearly 800 people died in ethnic fighting in Kokrajhar and adjoining districts between Bodo tribes people and non-Bodo communities over a decade long period from 1994.
The police survey revealed an organised racket of "recruiters" who lured good-looking women with job offers outside the state.
"We arrested some recruiters but could never put an end to the rackets fully," said police official Anil Phukan.
The modus operandi is simple: good looking women in the displaced peoples camps are offered jobs.
The parents are paid a few thousand rupees in advance, and told the daughters will send back money once they start working.
Once they go away, that rarely happens.
Money matters
Jam Singh Lakra of the Jaipur relief camp near Kokrajhar town says: "At least 20 girls have gone away with the jobs from our camp, not to return again."
"We did identify a few recruiters and one got beaten up. But somehow the girls kept going away."
Most families are cagey about the missing girls but some do speak up.
Tuilal Mardi of Tablegaon village says "My parents accepted the offer and sent my sister away."
"They got a few thousand rupees but she never came back or sent any money."
Women's rights activist Paula Banerjee, who works on problems of displaced women says: "Ethnic conflicts all over the world results in massive displacement of women and that gives rise to heavy trafficking - the situation in Assam is no different."
Local pornography
But not all the missing women of Assam have been taken out of the state.
Some show up in local pornographic films.
Assam girls going to van

Some of the girls in the trade are from better financial backgrounds.
Assam girls going to van
Some of the girls in the trade are from better financial backgrounds.
Mala Newar in Kokrajhar was known to her teachers as a "decent, well behaved girl" in school.
That was until one of them spied on her husband's mobile phone last month and found a video clip featuring Mala in the nude having sex with a stranger.
Enquiries in Kokrajhar revealed that Mala and some other local girls were used in a pornographic films racket run by a local leader.
A hotel in the town was used for the filming.
The girls were first lured into the hotel with job offers, then offered soft drinks laced with sedatives.
They were then filmed in the nude and blackmailed into doing sex scenes for the camera.
Not all missing girls in Assam are from displaced peoples camps, though.
Indrani Bora and Ritu Borgohain are smart, educated English-speaking girls from the Assamese capital, Guwahati, who got jobs in a holiday complex in Gurgaon near Delhi seven months ago.
But both say they got slowly got drawn into a call girl racket run by the complex owner.
An officer who led an Assam police team to rescue Indrani and Ritu explains.
"All across hotels and resorts in places like Delhi and Bombay, you will find hundreds of girls from Assam and other north-eastern states working as waitresses or customer executives.
"Some do get drawn into the call-girl trade."
Hunger driven
The Calcutta Research Group, in its recent study on conflict-induced displacement says that the displaced people in Assam live in acute poverty.
Assam girls outside police station.

Poverty is the driving force behind women opting for the trade.
Assam girls outside police station.
Poverty is the driving force behind women opting for the trade.
The situation has led the women in particular to desperately seek work elsewhere; even if the offers come from dubious people.
"This is because the government officials running the camps never created viable livelihood options," says Uddipana Goswami of the Calcutta-based Centre for Studies in Social Sciences (CSSS).
Ms Goswami has worked on the displaced camps in Assam.
"Many displaced women have such exquisite craftsmanship but nobody ever tried to convert that into income alternatives," she says.
Paula Banerjee says trafficking ignores borders therefore solutions cannot be left to local agencies alone.
"This is not a local or even a national problem."
"This reflects the global reality, so intervention by international organisations may help check trafficking."
(Names of the girls have been changed to protect their identity.)
India 2014 — Corporate — State corruption
Withdrawing support from the poor to subsidizing elite
A staggering USD 123 billion was lost in the last decade which is 30 times the amount New Delhi spent on social services like health care and education last year
Forced into criminality by a system of governance built on dishonesty, exploitation and greed
Over 75 per cent of slum dwellers report having paid a bribe to secure basic necessities such as kerosene or medical care.
While India’s billionaires wallow in complacent luxury, two-thirds of the population live in dire poverty, almost half the nation’s children suffer from malnutrition and tens of millions, mainly Adivasi and Dalit people have been displaced by mining and infrastructure projects
India 2011
Antibodies from women with infertility used in creation of GMO food
IMF through their implementation of austerity policies defacto exploit and loot the wealth of Third World nations and facilitate the long term asset stripping and resourcing stealing of such unfortunate countries
Quite a lot if you look at the whole Capitalist Western system which is rigged to exploit the masses and especially vulnerable Third Word nations in favor of the few, again in the West.
Globalization, Monetarism and Deregulation all sounded so great when they are expounded enthusiastically from the early 1980's, by the USA and their well funded fronts in academia and the global media as a globalist International Banker policy.
Anglicised elite of India lording it up in London, NY and heaven knows where with looted assets.
       Illuminati manipulation of oil energy resources      
       World rich elite taking advantage of middle class and poor      
     India and corporations 2011 — Deregulation, oil price, elite accumulation of wealth      
     In India a bill was introduced to make it a crime to question the safety of GMOs      
Vandana Shiva — Globalization project is creation of corporate states
Rural India — The Deadly Gambles of Farming
CIA Obama the acting president
Every facial movement, gesture of the hand, word enunciated by the 44th president turns out to be a complete charade
The CIA — Obama — Illuminati
A long-term strategic CIA plan to recruit promising candidates
and steer these individuals and their families into positions of influence and power
Behavior modification
Phenomenological — structures of consciousness — programs
US policy has even less regard for human rights both abroad and at home

For archives, these articles are being stored on website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.