ASHAs Have Been Stigmatized as Many Accuse Them of Spreading COVID in Rural Areas – Ms Lata Bhise


In continuation with the ongoing discussions on the Rural Realities and the health situation around the country, the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS)IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on “Rural Realities | Maharashtra Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages” on May 13, 2021.

The IMPRI team informed the discussion by locating for the event participants the situation of COVID-19 in India and Maharashtra. The team also provided an insight into the geography and Socio economic conditions of the state. The rationale was to provide the participants with an overview of the state of Maharashtra.


Women Centric Issues

Ms. Lata Bhise, State Secretary, National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), Maharashtra, said that Women have the identity as citizens, women and part of the working class. There is political, social, cultural and religious impact of COVID. Ration and unemployment are the main problems in rural areas. Rs.1500 allowance has been given to domestic and construction workers in Maharashtra but the problem is that women only below 60 receive it. There are Long lines in banks. Social security pension disbursement is a major problem. ASHAs have been stigmatized too, no proper treatment of them as many accused them of spreading COVID in rural areas. There are lot of insecurities.

Child marriages are increasing in rural areas as less people are invited due to COVID. Girl’s education and dropouts increasing rapidly. Beedi workers in Maharashtra (Padmashaali Samaaj) is in total unemployment, no provision for them. Micro finance companies too have made SHGs and disburse loans but there is sexual harassment. In COVID wards also, sexual harassment too has been reported. CCTV and responsible officers are now deployed in ICUs. Government dialogue should be promoted. Vaccination of ASHAs is the need of the hour as they can’t go for registration due to many problems.


Responding to the question of what crisis situation women farmers are facing, Ms Lata Bhise said that farmer suicides are increasing in Maharashtra. Fertilizers, seeds, and credit are not available due to COVID. No sale of eggs and milk due to lockdown. Women’s space has shrunk. Land is registered in the name of males which puts a question mark on women’s identity as farmers, subsequently, they are not able to avail the benefits of government schemes. No training available. Separate women dairies should be built. Credit facility needs to be given to women and implementation of forest act are the demands of women.

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