Hyderabad: To escape from toiling in the fields and an early marriage, many young unmarried girls from surrounding districts of Mahbubnagar, Nizamabad, and Medak move to the city in search of jobs, however low paying, and even if it sometimes means they are exploited. Most of the girls and women are from backward castes and have studied till class 10. They live in women's hostels or rented rooms.
An analysis by city-based Anveshi found that they are in poor health with a very low Body Mass Index.
Knowing their background, their employers extract the maximum amount of work from them without being called to book by the labour department as the girls rarely complain. Around 90 per cent of women who migrate to the city, come from families for whom farming is their bread and butter. They choose not to work on the farm, theirs or that of others, or in small factories,
Dr Mithun Rao and the team of Anveshi worked on a study on these women migrants in Hyderabad. Fifty women belonging to different strata were interviewed, including nurses.
“In a hospital, nurses get Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000, depending on their years of service. To supplement their meagre earnings, they also work overtime regularly. But in violation of overtime rules, where a worker is supposed to be paid double the rate for overtime, they get paid the same rate and just get Rs 50-100 extra for food. The nurses also reported that they are asked to sign a receipt for a higher amount than what they are paid. They do not get any other benefits, not even maternity. One of the nurses working for a year reported that they have to do continuous shifts regularly,” revealed a study done on working condition of nurses.
The exhaustion from working long hours and under pressure, takes its toll on the health of women workers. Most lose weight after they begin working in the city. They eat at irregular times and mostly dal, rice, pickle, and chips.
They often experience mood swings due to being away from their families and the strenuous work. What impels them to work is that they can send a substantial part of their income home for the family’s survival.
It is these women who look after the domestic, medical and educational needs of the rest of the family, but they get little help or protection from employers or the government.