Female stone breakers at different stone crushing yards in Tetulia upazila of the district have been reportedly working amid wage discrimination and vulnerable condition.
It was learnt that extreme poverty prevailed there compelled them to adopt the risky path because of not having any alternative ways and means to survive.
One upon a time, although poverty had dominated in the area, the present state is wholly different as remarkable development steps taken the successive governments have contributed vastly to eliminate the vicious circle. The changes particularly included tea plantation, stone crushing yards and agriculture.
The yards are situated in Shahibjot area, only 3km off the Tetulia upazila town while 7km away from bordering area Banglabandha, which were developed on both sides of the main road stretching 7km.
The stones are taken from the Mahananda river and adjacent areas as well as from India and Nepal.
There are at least 50,000 workers in the yards and half of them are women.
When asked, Moktarul Huq Muku, president of Stone Crushers’ and Earth Cutting Labourers’ Association and also former upazila chairman, acknowledged the sorry state of the female workers, saying there are about 1,000 stone business spots in the district, where most of the workers are women.
“They are doing risky jobs and do not get any health support from the owners when they physically unable to do the heavy tasks,” Muku continued.
One worker named Hafeja Khatun, mother of four children, hailing from Tirnaihat had to adopt the profession being failed to find any alternative ones as her husband died five years ago.
Hafeja said she gets Tk200 daily while the figure in case of her male colleague is Tk300. She alleged that they have been deprived despite giving equal output like the male workers.
Another worker named Shahana Begum from Ronochandi area echoed the voice of Hafeja, adding that she has been bearing the cost of her sick husband and four children.
Apart from the duo, Romicha, Kohinur, Nurnahar and Shahera said they have been suffering from various sorts of health complications due to have worked amid dusty environment of the yards for long although the owners as well as the local government do not pay any heed to the concern.
Their common disease is usual pain in the body, they went on.
Tetulia UNO Sheikh Mohammad Belayet Hossain said although the financial condition of women has improved a little bit owing to the stone crushing yards, but the wages paid to them is poor.
Besides, they were working without safety measures in dust produced during the stone crushing and that was why they have been afflicted with various types of diseases.