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A 22-year old girl Krishna Bhouri, who works at the Rajanagar tea garden in Kulaura upazila, gave birth to three dead children one after the other during the last few years.
She continued her work that includes hard manual labour throughout her pregnancies, not taking even one day rest. She like other co-worker women is entitled to only three months maternity leave. Krishna wanted to take the leave after the child was born.
While women of affluent families mostly refrain from physical labour during pregnancy, Krishna had to go through hard labour during those critical moments.
She thinks such hard labour might have had negative impact on her health during pregnancy that contributed to three still births.
Krishna did never consult with any doctor during her pregnancies all the three times, as she claimed, ” I requested my husband for several times to go to doctor, but what could I do, if he does not take me to one?”
Not only Krishna, but most of the women face health complications, especially during their pregnancy due to lack of proper health care and hard works during their critical moment. While the government has announced statutory maternity leave for six months, women working in tea gardens get only three months.
Although women workers at tea gardens have significant contribution in tea production, they are deprived of necessary facilities.
Only one doctor is designated for each tea garden. The doctor is available only for a few hours one single day in a week, while the doctor’s assistant gives treatment to workers rest of the days.
Asha Arnal, 28, a worker of Shamsernagar tea garden in Kamalganj upazila, said women have to do very many hard works including picking tea leafs and clipping the plants.
They have to work standing for seven to eight hours daily, even during their menstruation, that causes them to suffer different health complications.
“I have been working here for last six years. During this period I have experienced so much of suffering as I did not get leave when I felt sick. If I could not join work for a day, the authority would cut my salary. That is why I try to attend every day despite severe illness,” said Saraswati Orang, a worker of Rajanagar tea garden.
“I had to work for livelihood. What would we eat, if we do not attend work?” she added.
Talking to The Daily Star most of the women workers demanded to appoint a woman team leader so that women workers can share their problems and sufferings freely at place of work.