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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

FROM "GOD's OWN COUNTRY": Some relief at last for unwed tribal mothers!

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From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 8, Issue 25, Dated 25 June 2011.

Unwed Mothers /Photos: Ajilal

Sexual exploitation of tribal women continues to haunt Kerala long after literacy should have ended their misery. Jeemon Jacob reports.

WAYANAD DISTRICT, known for its wildlife sanctuaries and natural beauty, is also home to 2,000 unwed mothers, eking out a perilous existence in the shadow of shame. There are sexually abused and abandoned women in tribal hamlets all over Kerala, but this district, with its 17.1 percent tribal population, has the greatest number.

The new government under Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has announced a relief package for unwed mothers consisting of a one-acre plot, a house and 1,000 monthly pension. Of course, only those who have documents that prove their status will be able to avail these benefits.

Others, like Sarojini, 53, of Gunnikaparambu tribal settlement, are so shattered mentally and physically by their long trauma, that they are lost in their own world, unaware of the relief package. She never filed a police complaint against the man who sexually abused her 37 years ago, although she remembers that his name was Sivashankara Pillai, and that he was a bamboo cutter who used to visit her home with her brothers. “He promised to marry me and I believed him,” she recalls.

This is not the story of just tribals of Kerala, tribals of every other state too are sexually exploited and abandoned, without any fear of punishment, as the victims mostly illiterate, innocent and gullible lot, who wouldn't know their legal rights!

Full Story at,

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