Women stone labourers of Sekmai River


By Phaomei Ganmeilu
IMPHAL, November 2: Women have time and again been shrugged off as the fairer and weaker section of the society, however when it comes to providing for their families, there is none stronger and hardworking than a woman.

A blaring example is the women who toil day and night along the Sekmai River picking stones and loading onto trucks for someone else can build their houses.

One visit along the Sekmai river bank is enough to find a dozen of women toiling hard sometimes helped by their little ones in picking and loading even rock boulders onto trucks.

During a recent visit along the Sekmai River bank, this IFP reporter had a chance to meet with several of the women and talk about their work and toil.

The women are al from the nearby villages and areas and most are willing to leave their vocation, if they have any other options. Though they have to toil hard, their remuneration is meagre barely enough to manage their families.

During a simple chat with a group of such women labourer, this IFP reporter was told that they had been searching the river bank for a long time. They informed that the most one can earn on any given day after long hours of toiling along the river bank is Rs 500 which is also not on a daily basis.

They echoed that the hardship gets even worse if they fell ill or if anything happens to their families as they have no one to replace them for the day.

Dozens of women loiter around the river bank at Maharabi, Leikinthabi, Wagai, Potshangbam to pick stones and load it onto trucks.

The work is not only hard but dangerous at the same time, they echoed together.

There have been several instances when the women were injured while trying to lift the large rock boulders onto the trucks. Most of the women have families and most of their husbands are also involved in the same trade, however instead of just staying back at home and look after their children, the women decided on their own accord to come out and help add a little more to their husbands’ meagre earnings.

They further opined that since both the parents are out collecting stones from early morning till late in the evening, they have no time to properly look after their children which affects in their growing up.

The continued the infants who still cannot look after themselves accompany their parents to the river bank and are put inside small makeshifts along the river bank.

Though the women brave all seasons to work alongside their husbands and brothers, they still have to return home and do their womanly chores like cooking and look after the kids. In such a scenario, they are unable to look after themselves.


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