A call for awareness: Mizoram tangled in the web of Spa’s

The total number of job seekers recorded in the live register at the Employment Exchange of Mizoram is 36,047 as of June 2016. Out of these only 154 are unskilled with the rest being high school pass outs, graduates and experts at various lines. This figure only accounts for the registered unemployed, add to that the number of unregistered unemployed and one might be even more astonished. Taking these figures into view, it is of no surprise that middle school, high school pass outs and graduates who have no room to specialise in their skill areas go out of the state to earn their bread.

 

Lately, the leaders of the Mizo Welfare Association’s in the metropolitan cities have their hearts beating fast with any unknown number calling on their phone. This owes to the fact that atleast 9 Mizo’s have been arrested by the police in the past 5 months.  Nine Mizo youth who stepped out of the state’s boundaries looking to make a living in the metropolitan in hopes of supporting their folks back home. These youth which included graduates and high school pass outs were arrested under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act 1956 citing punishment for living on the earnings of prostitution.

 

According to the preliminary findings by a doctorate student who is currently doing a research on Human Trafficking in Mizoram, the majority of the youth arrested had abstained from such illegal sexual acts but were nonetheless taken in police custody due to the negative reputation of the workplace. These youth are employed at day spas which unknown to them run illegal sexual activities, she said. In some unfortunate cases, youth are lured by the owners with money and other assurances even saying they will be assigned their own lawyers so it is advisable that young naive youth are not sent to cities to work unless they are mature enough to decide for themselves said the researcher. She said the majority of those employed are assumed to be from BPL families with them being the sole supporter of the family.

 

A certain Welfare Association leader in one such metropolitan said, I had to go to the court late at night as one of our members was in trouble and the judge questioned if I was helping them out because I was a pimp. While the associations are ready to help those facing hardships, the court proceedings are rather complex and once it turns into a court case, there is little that can be done. It is required that the relatives of these people appear at the judicial court with Identification documents.

 

The Social Welfare Department of Mizoram also take whatever steps they can to help get these youth out of trouble. An officer from the department said, while we are not hesitant to help, the process is rather long and by the time we can get them out of the vigilant home, sometimes they have spent more than 3 months in such home where around 80 people are made to share two bathrooms. The Social Welfare Department has to contact a recognised NGO in the city to meet with the victim and arrange the necessary papers and also, notify the court that the particular NGO is authorised to help the victim.

 

At this moment, it is hard to say how many people are going through such hardships. If they lose their job, they are questioned by family on why they cannot send money back home, and with little language skills or other specialisations, they are often at a disadvantage said the Social Welfare Department official. We advise all relatives to be sure on where their children are working, what is the manner of their work and other details, even their work timings. They should make sure the agency as well as the workplace is trust worthy, they said.

 

 

Recently a press release was made by the Chennai Mizo Welfare Association where they requested family and friends in Aizawl who have sent or are planning to send their children, friends or relatives to the city to have a proper knowledge of their workplace and whereabouts. They stated that it is advisable for those planning to work in spa or massage parlours to have a proper training certificate. It is also important that their workplace has proper registration and license stating that it is a government approved place. The Mizo public are advised to get in touch with the Social Welfare Department regarding the license and registration of such parlours and shops before they answer the call to the workplace.

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An inside look at the life of a wife of a joint Mizo family

*A Women’s Day Special dedication

sad woman

If I was a powerful leader in the state, the first thing I would do is disintegrate the joint family system, said Lalnunpuii*, a 29 year old wife and mother residing in Aizawl city.

 

The joint family system of India is still very popularly practised in Mizoram with the sons residing with their wives, children and their parents in family homes.  While it looks all rosy and lively from the outside, it takes a few years to taste the bitter effects resulting from various adults with varied backgrounds living together under one roof and sharing their lives in the matter of a day.

 

It is said Mizoram is a shining example of gender equality with women taking up the market places and now sitting as heads of various department offices and educational institutions but at the end of the day, when these women close office and enter the doors of their homes. They become many things, a wife, a mother, a daughter in law, a sister in law, a home maker, a kitchen master and a person who makes sure the wall corners are web free, the cooking pots are glistening grease free, and the environment is dust free.

 

We have been married for seven years out of which we lived with his sisters for two years as they came to the city for further education and within these two years the love we built for five was destroyed. It is not that our love ended, but rather I could not bear to live a life gossiped, compared and complained of for one more day. Every effort I made went in vain. And to the parents, what their daughters say is accepted like the Bible while what we say is ignored like trash, said Lalmuanawmi* a 32 year old divorcee.

 

While there have been positive outcomes of such arrangements, a closer look at the families we know and see everyday majorly points to the negative. There are situations where two daughters-in-law with drastic differences in views of life and backgrounds are wedded to sons of one family.  One can put it this way, it is hard enough to adjust to a life as a wife vowed to a human you have never lived with, but in addition to that, women have to be the epitome of a daughter mothers never had, and when two women with opposite lifestyles have to do this in the same house, that calls for even more trouble.

 

I do not have a moment of relaxation, it’s either the baby or housework or cooking and then a little bit of sleeping. Waking up late or being backward in any work, and there is a string of complaints from the family members. I graduated from the University, I was working a good full time job, I was a happy independent woman in love with a man. But marriage changed everything, and there is no way to wish for a different situation as my husband is the youngest among his siblings. I have thought of divorce hundreds of times but I can’t get myself to do it because of our children, said Zomawiii*, a 35 year old full time housewife.

 

This is the case for mothers-in-law, we see the typical “Saas-Bahu” dramas in our much favoured Hindi serials and while we detest and laugh at these characters, we fail to see how much of these dramas are recreated in our own lives often by our very own doing. And the men have to note this, when a woman marries you, it does not end with her getting to spend her life with the love of her life, she goes through a life-changing transition. One day she wakes up as the jewel of her father’s eye, everything she says seems beautiful in her mother’s ears and another day she’s suddenly the object of speculation of a whole household.

 

Rinhlui*, a young and beautiful 27 year old mother of two said of her experience, “Sometimes it feels like to see me sit idle is a pain in my mother in law’s eyes. I have to be up and running all the time even if I am unwell. And to talk of these things with my husband would be talking ill of his family, so that’s a no-no. This is the fate I have to accept and live with everyday as a woman vowed to a man she loves.”

*names changed to protect identity

image from here

originally published in The Mizoram Post, March 9, 2017 Continue reading