MAC: Mines and Communities

Women in Mining Struggles in India

Published by MAC on 2003-04-26

Women near mines suffer untold misery

The Hindu, India

April 26 2003

New Delhi - Mining operations have a serious impact on the lives and livelihood of women. Mining activity, wherever in the country, is highly gender-discriminatory and abusive of their minds and bodies. Studies in Chhattisgarh and Orissa have shown that the number of unwed mothers has increased and so have the cases of immoral trafficking, AIDS, and domestic violence, besides the emotional and economic trauma faced by women.

Without any legal rights over land or natural resources, they are neither consulted nor compensated during displacement. It has always been the men who receive all forms of compensation while the women are completely alienated from their otherwise strong economic role and are now constantly exposed to the hazardous conditions at the mine site. These issues were ! raised by the women displaced due to mining activities and non-governmental organisations working around these sites in Chhattisgarh and Orissa at a press conference here on Thursday organised by the Mines, Minerals and People, an NGO.

"In order to bring these issues to the centre-stage of national discussions, women from various mining regions are seeking help from experts and support from powers-that-be to focus on immediate ameliorative steps, both in terms of policies and practices," said K. Bhanumathi, convener of the Women and Mining wing of the (MM and P).

The tribal women in Kasipur (Orissa) are fighting against land alienation and displacement for a bauxite mining and the Utkal Alumina plant. In East Parez of Jharkhand, women are fighting against destruction and pollution of their lands and resources, while in Rajasthan rural and tribal women are collapsing under inhuman working condition, bonded labour and low wages inthe sandstone, asbestos and masonry industry. The stories from Gudur and Pulivendula in Andhra Pradesh present another pathetic picture where women are dying from asbestos-related diseases and in Jharkhand where women are delivering physically and mentally challenged children due to the impact of radiation from uranium mines.

"The transformation of agrarian economy to mining economy degrades women's economic, social and cultural status. Hence, non-existent social evils like wife-battering, alcoholism, indebtedness, physical and sexual abuse, prostitution, polygamy and desertion are common in the mining region," Ms. Bhanumati said, adding that it was high time that the powers in Delhi take notice of these gross injustices and changing social values.

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