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Women Issues
Women Porters: Busting another Male Bastion Bookmark and Share  
  Author Name : Shail Raghuvanshi Posted on : August-31-2009 Total Hits: 1950
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Can you imagine women porters carrying your luggage at the railway station? ‘Impossible!’ you say. Well, it is not just a possibility; it is a reality with Bhavnagar in Gujarat already having women porters for the past 69 years. Now, the city of Allahabad, the land of the Sangam (the meeting point of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) and the place of the Nehru family is now recruiting around 19 women for the posts of porters, following glorious Gujarat in breaking the shackles of gender and sex.


But, how did the original posting of the first women porters actually take place? Reports have it that a new railway station was constructed around the year 1940 in Bhavnagar and the then Maharaja Bhavsingh of Bhavnagar declared that all the porters at this new station would be women. From then onwards, women have been applying for this post and working as porters. In fact, currently there are 22 women out of the total 26 porters in Bhavnagar railway station. Many of them are above 50 years old and find the job most convenient.


But, the current procedure of appointment of women railway porters is raising a few eyebrows and the Union Ministry of State for Women and Child Development, Krishna Tirath in particular is stated to have demanded ‘details’ about this appointment. Though some people may be shocked by the idea of women carrying loads of luggage piled on their heads, it is a fact that many women do similar kind of work selling vegetables and fruits and, even carry heavy loads on their heads in villages. What is irking people is not just the idea of women barging into the dominant male field of railway porters but also the procedure test involved in recruiting the currently 19 short listed women for the posts. This test involves a 200 m run with a 25 kg sack on one’s head with a qualifying time of four minutes (it is three minutes for the men). The other reasons that people cite for not permitting women to work as railway porters is the danger of women being pregnant while carrying heavy loads. Also, there is the possibility of women being abused in a dominantly patriarchal society. But, which profession is free of misuse and exploitation?


The fact is that another male dominated profession is now being slowly shared with women.

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