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Sugar & Spice!

Usually, they are somewhat forced to take leave for two days during the time of menstruation, as they tend to feel weak. However, it has become increasingly difficult for those ladies to convince the contractors who do not show interests in granting them leaves! The contractors ask them to pay INR 500 from their respective salaries at the end of the month for taking unauthorised leaves. So, the female sugarcane workers in western Indian province of Maharashtra’s Beed District have decided to sterilise themselves by removing their uterus in order to get rid of the problem!
This piece of news has ushered in shock-waves to the National Commission for Women. The Commission has ordered the Chief Secretary of the Indian province, U P S Madan, to investigate the case and to punish the contractors, if found guilty. Rekha Sharma, the Chairperson of the Commission, has expressed serious concern over the working condition at sugarcane fields in Beed, saying that the Commission would not allow the contractors to exploit the female workers.

As sugarcane is harvested from October to March in India, a number of workers from different parts of the South Asian country arrive in the western province in September-October. While the male workers plant the sugarcane in October and take care of them for next three-four months, their female counterparts cut the cane in February-March and also clean them (it involves removal of the extraneous matter such as leaves, trash, roots etc.) in a proper way. Therefore, the contractors consider a couple as a unit and fix their remunerations on that basis.
A National Daily has reported that if a female worker takes leave, then the contractor does not pay her husband. Even, the contractor asks the husband to pay a fine of INR 500 to the former! The daily also reported that mothers of two-three children decided to remove their uterus to avoid this situation, as such a move would allow them to work everyday in the field and also to escape penalty

In her letter to the chief secretary, Sharma clearly mentioned that the provincial government in Maharashtra should rehabilitate these victims, and help them return to the mainstream of Society. She further ordered the Maharashtra government to take legal actions against the contractors and to inform the Commission about steps taken by the Government!
It is unfortunate that female agrarian workers in India are experiencing such a trauma even after the prime minister launched ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ (or ‘Save the daughter, educate the daughter’) campaign aimed at generating awareness and improving the efficiency of welfare services intended for girls in the country…

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