A day in a slum with the poverty stricken women – Zuairia Zahra Haq & Nur Jannatul Fariha


This was the last semester of my undergrad life and it ended with a mandatory project work. The experience of conveying the questioner survey of the project work was very exciting and stimulating. We spend about one and a half decade of our life for our education purpose. If we sum up the hours of all our regular classes, home works and exams, no doubt, it would be exceeding a few thousands! But, only few memories and lessons remain in our brains and hearts for the rest of our life. This very practical experience was such a moving one.
We have picked up a slum and our study was focused on the internally migrated female. We also studied about their living standard in the slum. We chit-chated and talked to those women to collect the information.
“Here, I feel very lonely. There are no girls other than me of my age. So, I have no pal, neither a friendly person to talk in the neighborhood. I miss my school friends from Kalkini, Madaripur badly. If, there were some girls of my age, it would be very pleasant for me.”
It was a portion of a converse between me and a teen girl named Shupti, residing in a slum of Mirpur-12, Dhaka. During the questioner survey for the data collection of our academic project work, we met a number of female slum dwellers. The study area for our assignment was a slum of Mirpur and it was related to the poverty stricken female migrant of Dhaka city. The dialogue, aforementioned, is a sixteen years old adolescent girl, talking about her life in slum. The young girl is serving for the adjacent garments factory to join the expenses of her big family. She moved towards Dhaka from Madaripur along with her family 6 months back and had started living in the Molla Slum. The base of the move was primarily, poverty. While carrying on the survey we met her in the slum. She was studying in class nine at Madaripur, but all of a sudden, her whole family shifted to the capital for a better livelihood motive and thus, unofficially her study life concludes here. She was our youngest respondent whose innocent and saddening words opened our eyes and trembled our thought processing.
According to her words, she had taken a job that offered her a very small amount of bucks, here in the nearest garments factory. Though, she spends a super hectic life, working 9 to 5, 6 days a week, she still misses her friends. Despite, leading a miserable life in the slum and the environment here is very unhealthy, nothing has bothered her. Her tender mind only wants to get is chums of her age.
There was another woman who gave a long time to us. Her expression was also thought provoking. She said,
“No one wants to leave their native area without any massive issue. My husband was a paid farmer there. The year we decided to move toward Dhaka was a year of severe crop failure. So, he had no job. We starved for several days. When the situation went beyond our tolerance level, he came to Dhaka with a hope to lead a better life.”
This female rural-urban migrant came to Dhaka before five years with her whole family. Here by ‘better’ she meant ‘financial affluence’. Actually, people of our country adorn rural life. They are not attracted by the city rush, traffic and pollution. Their solo motive to move to cities is financial betterment. They need food, job and money. The women of the Molla slum also moved due to the same type of objective. Besides the women needed to move to Dhaka and earn money due to the physically unfit male family member and being deserted by husband. Sometimes, the situation made them bound to move towards Dhaka.
Rural areas of Bangladesh are deprived of chances and opportunities for women. It is still now dominated by the agricultural activities which automatically shrinks the earning opportunities. Therefore, the female migrants move to the capital city facing several social and environmental barriers in order to fulfill their needs and desires which cannot be accomplished in the rural areas. Economic reasons and marriage acting as push or pull factor, are the prime reasons behind taking the migration decision of the women. Job availability, informal economy, city lights all these factors are economic related. At first, the women first come to the city for work and if they find the job they serve is affordable and enough for her wellbeing, they settle on a plan to stay in the city. Majority of these women are aware of the job uncertainty and probable risks that they might face in the city. But, a little upgrade of living standard is all they wish for.
Thus, to fulfill their motive, their number one destination is the slums. But, social economic condition of female in the slum area of Dhaka City is not satisfying though they do very hard work for their family but do not get proper dignity and security as man does. They are neglected in almost all spheres of their life. They are not allowed to take active part in decision making process even though they financially contribute to their family. Physical abuse in female of slum area of Dhaka City is very common scenario which hampers self respect and honor.
The condition of sanitation for female of the slum is extremely poor. The cooking facilities are not also enough. Government and NGOs may fund to build more washrooms for slum areas. Also here government can play a vital role here.
The civil society and women group are to be more pro-active to stop this crime and try to ensure pleasant life for them. In addition, particularly the men’s mindset towards women has to be changed and woman should be more conscious about their condition. And try all the possible way to protect them in this scenario. Because self help is the best help. They have to keep it mind they have achieved a mind blowing success in their economic condition. Their little bit effort can help this poor community to achieve their social gaining.

The authors are studying at the Bangladesh University of Professionals