More women roll beedi in State

More women roll beedi in State

A file photo of beedi workers.

In Karnataka there are 3,60,876 beedi workers and nearly 86 percent of them are women and children.

Despite laws against bonded labour and the existence of Child Labour and Beedi Cigar Workers’ Act, they have not been strictly enforced. In a study conducted by Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) in villages of West Bengal and Gujarat, 76 percent of beedi rollers earn a paltry sum of Rs 33 per 1,000 beedis. There are around 10 million workers employed in beedi industries in India, out of which 25 percent of them are children, 55 percent are women and only 20 percent of them are men.

According to the study, 75 percent of the total respondents suffered from multiple illness. Workers were unhappy with the work conditions as they  are continuously exposed to hazardous substances with a high risk of developing tuberculosis, asthma and anaemia and other ailments.

Vulnerable lot

The women and children are the most vulnerable as most women carry their infants to the work place. As a result they are exposed to tobacco dust, fumes and other hazardous substances from very tender age.

Rubina Banu, a resident of Gangenahalli in Bangalore has been rolling beedis for the past 20  years. “The only work I know is rolling beedis. Even if I wish to quit there is no other alternative work that I can find. Moreover, I prefer to work from home and rolling beedis provides me with that opportunity,” she explained. 

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