[Following is an official Jamia press release dated Jan. 24, 2014]
A study sponsored by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research and sponsored by NCW (National Commission for Women) has reported that not less than 60% of women who have migrated from North East India to four metros- have faced harassment and discrimination. The study conducted in the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru by researchers and comprised of a limited sampling of students and young professionals both in the organized and unorganized sector. The aim of the study was to discover the challenges before women from NER living and working in cities The study found that women migrated due to better job and education opportunities in the cites as well as due to peer pressure.
Two-thirds of the women were studying, the rest worked as teachers, doctors, engineers, government employees, call centre workers and beauticians. In contrast to poverty driven migration from other parts of the country, over 33% respondents belonged to families falling in the middle income groups and 60% had travelled in order to find better job opportunities.
The survey covered over 300 respondents including landlords, teachers, lawyers, police and social activists and found that migrant women are especially vulnerable to deprivation, hardships, discrimination and abuse, and this is 30% more pronounced in case of women from the NER. In fact, while 23% of the respondents admitted to having been harassed by landlords, an alarming 42% said that they were often subjected to verbal abuse. A total of 29% reported harassment and molestation. The respondents appeared unaware and unsure of the legal system with little or no knowledge of laws like the Prevention of Atrocities Against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, and held a mistrust for the police. 80% of the victims chose not to report incidents of harassment to the police, and the small number that did approach the police said that they were not satisfied. Yet significantly, although a majority reported different levels of discrimination, they said they preferred to stay on and 44% said that they would in fact encourage their relatives and friends to migrate to the city. Prof. Hazarika said this was a reflection of “people voting with their feet” and underlined the difficult challenges of deprivation and insecurity in different parts of the NER.
Despite being a preferred destination for women migrants, Delhi has the worst record of meting out discrimination with 81% respondents in the city reporting it, followed by Bangalore at 60%. Mumbai emerged as the safest city although there were reports of extortive behaviour by auto and taxi drivers.
Finding a place to rent emerged as another problem in Bangalore with 38% of the women facing difficulties, though in Delhi only 19% faced this problem. Overcharging of rent by landlords emerged as a common problem in Kolkata. However, some landlords did view the North Easterners in a favourable light. One from Munirka, a locality in South Delhi in an interview said, “I have seen that they take care of our house, rooms and corridors as their own, unlike others, they are clean, pleasant and honest.” He stressed that food habits and cultural differences should not be a barrier for renting out rooms as “staying in a community means sharing and understanding differences.”
With over 4,14,850 migrating from the NER to cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Lucknow this study has the scope to be expanded further said Prof. Hazarika, Director of the NE Centre at Jamia said that the study should be expanded to more cities across the country to “get a clearer picture of conditions on a wider scale.” The result of the survey was presented in a workshop at the Centre on 23 January 2014 and was attended by over 40 young scholars and teachers from Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia, NCW representatives and social activists.