96% Dalit women labourers under debt: Survey
927 households surveyed | Spouses in 36 per cent of cases addicted to drugs
A study on rural Dalit women working as labourers in Punjab shows that 96.33 per cent of them are under debt, while more than one-third (36.46 percent) of the respondents have stated that their husbands are addicted to drugs.
The study was conducted by Punjabi University professors and published as part of a book titled “Khseeay khali, dhiddon bhukhay atay tann uttay leera”.
Average debt per sampled household is Rs52,378; their repaying capacity is nil and they face humiliation from private money lenders
Based on multi-stage systematic random sampling technique, the study is related to 2016-17 and was conducted in four districts from three
geographical regions of Punjab, including Majha, Doaba, and Malwa.
From these villages, 927 Dalit women labourers’ households were randomly selected.
The study shows that the per day per person income of these households is Rs 45, while per person per day consumption expenditure is Rs 51, average debt per sampled household stands at Rs 52,378, while as many as 96.33 per cent rural Dalit women are under debt.
The average debt per sampled household stands at Rs 52,378, while as many as 96.33 per cent of rural Dalit women households are under debt. “Their repaying capacity is nil and they face humiliation and torture from private money lenders. Total assets of such households are Rs 1,28,751, while the debt asset ratio is 0:41,” said Dr Gian Singh, former professor, department of economics, Punjabi University.
The study further highlights that the proportion of illiterate women is 73 per cent. As many as 92 per cent are living in semi-pucca houses, while 69 percent houses have no separate kitchen and 11 per cent have zero drinking water source.
While 52 per cent of Dalit women started working as labourers at the age of 20 or less, 62 per cent of them are suffering from serious diseases.
Out of the total Dalit women labourers — 97.53 per cent in Doaba, 92.14 per cent in Malwa and 91.72 per cent in Majha — were not provided any facility at their workplace. Further, 30.04 per cent respondents in Doaba, 38.11 per cent in Malwa and 42.04 per cent in Majha were paid less wages as compared to their male counterparts for the similar work.
A majority of the women did not know about the standard working hours fixed by the government. Not even a single respondent in all three regions was aware of the Minimum Wages Act.
The study published in form a book is authored by Dr Gian Singh and co-authors Dr Gurinder, professor of geography, Dr Dharampal, Jyoti and Veerpal Kaur, all assistant professors in economics. The first of its kind study is sponsored by Bebe Gurnam Kaur Memorial Educational Centre (Isru)