A recent study conducted across slums in Chennai, including Vyasarpadi, Kasimedu, Besant Nagar, Ramapuram and Chemmenchery, assessing the social and economic status of women living in them, has found that child marriages are till rampant.
The study also brought to light several other problems like sexual abuse, lack of sanitation, etc, in the areas. The study carried out by Dhagam Foundation, as part of Aval project, surveyed women across age groups on topics like education, marriage, job opportunities, sexual abuse, equality and rights awareness. The results have brought out startling facts, as these women battle early marriage, suffer due to lack of freedom to make decisions on education and employment, apart from facing sexual abuse.
Govind Mururgan, convenor, Dhagam Foundation presenting the findings on Saturday, said that while a majority of school going girls drop out after puberty due to restrictions imposed by parents and (41 per cent), followed by economic problems (25 per cent) and out of them a huge percentage have child marriages as parents look at them as burden. He added, “Out of them, 36 per cent of them have returned to their parents houses, due to dowry and problems with their in-laws”.
A significant 59 per cent of them women depend on their husband’s income, even as 63 per cent of the women are interested in working. “But they don’t get the freedom to work, or the opportunities, apart from constraints like taking care of their children,” he added.
In these slums, 79 per cent of the men are addicted to smoking and alcohol and 81 per cent of the women in these households, feel their lives have been destroyed by the addictions.
A whopping 42 per cent face sexual abuse and are afraid to complain to their families and confide in their friends and colleagues, according to the study.