WLTC Photo Series
Asma Khatun is a co-worker at the Muslim Women Forum. She joined the team put together by WLTC to work on a rapid assessment of the Impact of Covid-19 on Women in Assam. With help from the Equity Center, New Delhi and WLTC, she has supported almost 100 people so far during the lockdown.
This is Sulema Khatun. She lives in Goltlong area of Tezpur, Assam with a family of six. Sulema worked as a domestic helper before the COVID-19 crisis. But her employers have now asked her to return only when the lockdown ends. She is yet to receive her previous payments. As of now, she has received 20 kilograms of rice from the government and nothing else.
When I visited her, she had cooked soya chunks for both breakfast and lunch. The soya chunks, along with 10 kilograms of rice, pulses, potatoes, mustard oil, soap, detergent powder, biscuit, sugar etc. were part of a relief pack they received from a local NGO. For dinner that day, she would forage morisa (amaranth) and alency (buffalo spinach) from her neighbour’s' field. To add to the worsening the food situation, the seasonal dust storm has damaged her house as well. She doesn't have money to mend it.
The 20 women I met for this assessment are all living their lives in great vulnerability. They do not have access to essentials like food, medicine, water and even shelter. They also have several domestic issues and no contact with law enforcement.
If the lockdown extends as the pandemic worsens, many people whom I met are at risk of starvation, with no medical facilities available either. Many people do not even have a ration card and have not received any help from the government. At present they are in ardent need of money and access to police. There is an underlying apprehension that the police do understand them and would subject them to harassment and brutality.
Photo series co-ordinated by Banamallika Choudhury of Women’s Leadership Training Centre (WLTC) and Sampurna Das a doctoral student at the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi.
WLTC is a feminist organisation based in Assam, working towards gender and social equality. It focuses on enhancing women’s capacities and creating space and opportunity for women (cis and trans) to take decision-making and leadership positions within families, communities, in governance and politics.