The quintessential Indian experience that people of all ages can relate to is having a lazy cup of tea early morning with a biscuit or a rusk; an amazing way to start the day. The tea that most Indians enjoy is made by the hard work of the tea garden workers of Assam, who pluck fresh tea leaves for further processing and later selling.
Radha was one of those tea garden workers in Assam. She had no particular inclination nor dislike towards the job but was doing it because it was among the only unskilled work she could perform in that region.
Radha was the sole breadwinner of her household. Her husband was a drunkard who stole her money for drinking and abused her regularly. She took care of her 3 children and managed the household all by herself.
Every morning, Radha would go to the tea plantations to pick leaves. She would have to work tirelessly all day without any rest. Most of the days she took her baby with her as well. There was no one at home to watch the kids. So she let the child sleep in some shade, as was done by most women who worked there. Sometimes they gave the babies some tincture to ensure they would stay asleep the entire time. Radha's heart would ache from worry as there were insects, snakes and other animals nearby. All she could do was keep the child in sight and hope for the best.
The long hours she stood in the fields, under harsh weather, were not the toughest part of her job. The toughest part of the job was dealing with the managers. The managers were known for being fickle with salaries. They were also foul-tempered and would use foul language, shove or even hit the workers. Under the threat of losing their jobs, the workers, including Radha stayed silent.
It was then that a PoSH training session, conducted by HRhelpdesk Trust, took place. The session led by Amarpreet Kaur was eye-opening to the workers. It surprised them to know the provisions and rights they had for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and to have a proper safe work environment. They didn't realize that they could have childcare facilities, fixed salaries, breaks when necessary and most importantly, provisions to prevent abuse and harassment.
The women who worked there were surprised to know that the day to day violence and exploitation they faced were against the law. To them, it was merely a way of life. As surprised as they were, the women sadly stated that the rights and provisions would only ever be a fantasy. It may exist but it might never be put into action, they said.
For the lowest strata of society to enjoy the same benefits and rights that the rest of the world had, provisions have to - not only be made but also be put into practice. Many laws and rights exist merely on paper for them, a distant dream. Let's work together to make a change at the grassroots level. To create a world that is safe and equal for everyone, but putting the laws in to practice.