Empowered women run the slums in India while men sit back and relax

Photo credit: Rituparna Nath

Many people have heard about Indian slums, they have seen them on the news, on TV or watched movies such as ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. But when Rituparna Nath visited the Kallukuttai slum, one of the largest in Chennai, she was welcomed by the smiling faces of women riding on mopeds, laughing and joking. Their husbands were no where to be seen yet that didn’t seem to matter, children were running around playing games and chanting rhymes.

Click through the images on the map to see what Kallukutai slum really looks like. 

Surprisingly the female community was strong in Kallukuttai says Rituparna, “they supported one another so it was a different and pleasant change to see women so confident of themselves there”.

Women are essentially single mothers as well as providers, family values are flipped in such communities.

“Men are often unemployed. Alcoholics. Then it is even more difficult for women” says Rituparna. “In most cases, women get no extra help from husbands. Men come as migrants looking for jobs. Like labour carpenter jobs. Once they settle, they bring in their families with them.” She says, “Thus children and wives come and settle. Often these women work as domestic helps or something of the sort besides taking care of the household to run the family.”

 

 

According to Prema, a resident of the slum, “most women here are employed and are successfully supporting their families”, despite the lack of support from their husbands. Husbands avoid working as much as possible and are seen to indulge in debauchery. For Pushpa, another resident,” If men go to work even for ten days in a month, it’s a big thing.”

 

Photo credit: Rituparna Nath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On asked about the issues of safety, the women responded that a close-knit community living in the slum ensures a fairly safe environment, although there are occasional cases of internal as well as external conflicts, which seldom become violent.

The women who go out to work in the call centers and other places at night are received and escorted by an elder male in the slum from the main road where they are dropped or picked.

Even though, the slum dwellers have broken the barriers and are becoming more acceptable towards women roles outside the domestic sector, male supervision cannot be done away with due to issues of safety that plagues our society.

Despite the poor family values and the poverty existing in slums such as Kallukuttai there are children who aspire to be successful and with the support of their parents.

 

 

-A little girl (left) who is studying in primary school. She aspires to become a police officer but her mother (right) wants her to grow up to be a doctor

Learn more about slum life!

https://www.storyboardthat.com/storyboards/alexandra41387/india–slum-storyboard

 

Aleksandra Ganuszko

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