news Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 05:30
Nayantara N | The News Minute | November 16, 2014 | 11.12 am IST For Lakshmi, delivering her baby some days ago brought her more worries than joy. The next two months would be a harrowing experience for both the new mother and her tiny tot. The people of Golla community have an age-old practice which mandates menstruating women and women who have just delivered babies to live in a shed, either in a forest or somewhere far away from home. The people of the community believe that such women and their babies are cursed. The stay in sheds is anything but comfortable. Sleeping in the open is an invitation to threats – scorpions, snakes, poisonous insects make their way and women have reportedly lost their lives due to this. Be it monsoon or winter, the newly born must endure the hardship. It is unsanitised and risks of infections run high. People do not touch the woman or her baby even under desperate time. Even food and water are provided from a distance. The Gollas are a semi-nomadic community spread across the state and in recent times, reports of women suffering due to this age-old custom has been gathering media attention. Human rights activists are protesting against such the practice and a few groups have even visited such hattis and created awareness about ill-effects of undergoing such unnecessary procedures. But long before this, there has been a move even within the community to put an end to this practice. As Bengaluru expanded, several of these hattis (settlement) now exist within the city limits. Yet the Gollas are reluctant to let go of this practice. The News Minute visited Doddagollarahatti near Nagadevanahalli in Bangalore and found sheds placed near the vicinity of the houses. An old woman explains, “We understand that the custom does not fit into this age and people advise against it for our own well-being. But you see, the gods get angry and the snakes slither into our house if the women are kept inside during such days.” During the visit, most people were unwilling to speak to journalists because a TV channel had visited the locality the previous day. Most women insisted that they had done away with the practice and it existed only in the villages.  However, one or more sheds were to be found outside many Golla houses, but it was hard to tell whether it was for the chicken and goats they reared or if it was meant for women.  An interesting sight was a small building, beside the anganwadi, which was funded and constructed by the BBMP for use by women during their days of menstruation. It has basic amenities like water, electricity and toilets, thus making it a safe place to stay. The women now claim that the facility is barely used hence they would convert it to a ‘Ladies Association.’ A building constructed by the BBMP for the use of Golla women Members of the community have asked to be left alone, arguing that when they did not dictate terms to others, why others should interfere with their age-old traditions and practice. Recently, it was reported that several women in Hassan district were undergoing hysterectomies as they longer wanted to suffer from this practice. Removal of vital organs without significant medical condition could be problematic and even life-threatening. Ratna, a woman activist for the Kadugolla community on Thursday has thrown a challenge at Chief Minister Siddharamiah to spend a day at their hamlets, reports Times of India. The State Women’s Commission Chairperson, Manjula Manasa, had ordered a survey to collect data on how many such women had undergone such procedures. However, neither the District health officer nor the Chairperson was available for comment.

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