news Thursday, December 25, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | December 25, 2014 | 9.30 pm IST Nagapattinam was one of Tamil Nadu's worst-hit places when the tsunami tore through south Asia 10 years ago. But strangely, the disaster has left two positive outcomes. The voice of women is now being heard and child marriages have completely stopped among the fishing community, say activists. According to NGOs, the fishing community that earlier looked out for doles for some years after the tsunami killed around 6,100 people in Nagapattinam alone, now sports its original attitude -- standing up on itd own legs. "Now the voice of women is being heard within and outside the family. Similarly, the custom of child marriage has come to an end in the fishing community in this part of the state," A. Gandhimathi, director of the Legal Aid to Women (LAW) Trust, told IANS. Pre-school teacher S. Lakshmi told IANS over phone from Nagapattinam that the other positive aspect is that "girls belonging to the fishing community are sent to school and even to college". Many families in the fishing community now have only two or three children. Earlier, families had many more, Lakshmi said. The emergence of self-help group has also helped women whose families were affected by the killer waves. The devastating tsunami triggered by an undersea quake off Sumatra in Indonesia hit Tamil Nadu's coast in Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Chennai and Kanyakumari Dec 26, 2004. The killer waves claimed around 8,000 lives in the state, including some 6,100 in Nagapattinam alone. Over 230,000 were killed in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Maldives, and elsewhere in India. But on the negative side, Gandhimathi said, physical attacks on women have increased among some families. "Women do not have much privacy in their new housing units which was not so earlier," she said. She said many post-tsunami houses are still vacant as the areas are prone to water-logging and the houses were constructed without taking that into account. Gandhimathi said the poor do not even have proper land title in their names. "Post tsunami, this has been a major concern of the people as many coast-based power plants are coming up in the vicinity that need acres of land," she said. Similarly, publicity about harbour-based fishing as against shore-based will slowly push out small fishermen from being a boat owner to a worker, she said. However, there still exists the fear of unknown among the fishing community and they decide to stay back if the sea is slightly rough. In 2012, many in the fishing community in Nagapattinam district feared the doomsday prediction of the Mayan calendar. According to Lakshmi, whose husband is also a fisherman, many do not venture out into the sea around this time. "Fishermen would resume fishing in normal fashion only after the New Year," she said. IANS Tweet

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