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Pankaj Karmakar and Mintu Deshwara
Although women workers significantly contribute to maintenance of families with their hard-earned income, domestic violence against them is prevailing in large scale at tea gardens.
While many families are completely dependent on the earnings of their female members, many women workers are very often beaten up by their husbands or other family members of their in-law’s residence for trivial reasons. They are not provided with sufficient food as punishment and have to endure various forms of abuse.
Talking to over a dozen of women, who are victims of domestic violence as well as violence by male co-workers and people’s representatives of that localities, it has become clear that lack of education, financial crisis, social stigma and negative social norms are the key reasons for violence against women.
“The main reason of violence against women is financial crisis. It is a common scenario at tea gardens where husbands and wives are locked in feud over buying of daily commodities and the feud ending with beating of the women,” said Sitaram Bin, a member of Shamsernagar Union Parishad of Kamalganj upazila of Moulavibazar.
“At least 50 per cent of violence against women will disappear, if financial crisis of workers are solved,” he said, adding that the remaining 50 per cent of tortures on women are caused due to lack of awareness, illiteracy and social stigma.
Many male workers torture their wives almost regularly brining the allegation of extra-marital affairs, though many female workers know that this is nothing but an excuse of covering men’s wrongdoings like drinking and their failure of earning enough.
Many women also made counter-allegations that male partners bring the accusation of extra-martial relationship against their wives only when the husbands try to divorce their wives to marry another woman or continue extra-marital relationship with other girls.
A 22-year girl Joyonti Rikeasion, resident of Kannayhati tea garden in Shamsernagar, has been staying at her father’s house for last few months, as she left her husband’s home being victim of regular physical and mental torture.
“He (the husband) has been beating me regularly for last one year alleging that I have illegal relationship with other men. He beat me up with whatever he got at hand like sticks, utensils, and even kicked me all over my body,” said Joyonti.
“He even beat me up during my pregnancy, and did not let me take necessary food. I suffered many physical complications during that time,” she added.
Talking about torture, Asha Rani Gouala, 35, a female worker of Debol Chara tea garden in Kamalganj, said many male workers drink alcohol regularly. There are many examples that husband beat wives, when wives insists on buying some daily essentials.
“They (males) can spend money for wine, but cannot buy daily essentials!” added Asha.
Asked whether they try to resist or not, Asha said, “If we try to resist and they (husbands) are hit by our hands or legs, it will be a sin for us. Who will bear the burden of sin?”
Shupal Bhouri, 50, working at Rajanagar tea garden under Kulaura Upazila, however, said, “It is necessary to beat wife usually once or twice, if she does something wrong, , but not severely beat herall the time.”
Talking to The Daily Star, Sitaram Bin stressed the need for expansion of education and awareness to contain violence against women in the tea gardens.