Bengaluru slum women share struggles and strengths

From hardship to hope...
Last Updated : 30 June 2024, 01:57 IST

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When Arathi (name changed) married for love at the age of 17, she envisioned a joyful life with her husband. However, he soon abandoned her, compelling her to complete a beautician course to support herself, pay for her nine-year-old daughter’s education, and care for her four siblings and other family members.

Arathi was among several women who shared their stories at Gandhi Bhavan on Saturday, during the launch of the booklet ‘Ele manasina Odalalada Matugalu’, which includes 50 case studies of women aged 18 to 30 living in the slums of Bengaluru. These studies, compiled by Slum Mahila Sanghatane and the ActionAid Association, span 23 slums across seven city wards, including Padarayanapura, Cottonpet, Sudhama Nagar, and Gali Anjaneya Temple.

The analysis revealed that all surveyed women were single mothers, their husbands having either deserted them or died. More than half (34) had been minors when they married.

At least 85% of these women’s husbands suffered from alcohol or other substance addiction, leading to abuse and harassment. Nearly 90% of the women had endured some form of physical or psychological abuse.

None of the women earned minimum daily wages, and more than half had no access to any government entitlements, forcing them to work as housekeeping staff, cleaners, or in other menial jobs such as tobacco and cotton wick making.

“I was blamed for my husband’s death. I often felt like dying myself, but the only thought that stopped me was my children. I will live for my children, for their education and betterment. We only have ourselves; nobody will come to our rescue,” echoed several women who took to the stage to share their stories.

One recommendation from the booklet presentation was to establish supportive forums and expert counselling twice a month in schools and colleges to discuss sex education, youth challenges, psychological conflicts, and stress, among other factors that may lead young women into early marriages, in a safe and open environment.

Additionally, the analysis advocated for young women living alone to be prioritized for housing, including their inclusion in the existing Manaswini Scheme and an increase in the pension amount to Rs 5,000.

Published 30 June 2024, 01:57 IST

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