TAMIL NADU

AIDWA concern over `distress' migration

CHENNAI, NOV. 29. The All-India Democratic Women's Association today expressed concern at the "large-scale migration of farmhands and poor farmers," particularly women, who sought alternative employment because of agrarian distress. It demanded issuance of identity cards to the migrants.

Sudha Sundararaman, general secretary, told reporters here that unlike "seasonal migration," a well-known practice among farm workers, the recent spate of migrations was more permanent. It involved sections of poor and middle class peasants whose land holdings were increasingly becoming unviable because of the growing cost of agricultural production and continuous fragmentation mainly due to rising indebtedness.

The 7th national conference of AIDWA held in Orissa last week expressed concern over the "distress migration or migration for survival." It has decided to launch a nation-wide campaign on December 10 focussing on the demand for "right to life."

Normally, during seasonal migration, women stayed back to take care of the household, children and elders. But in the background of the recent drought, they were forced to take up jobs for low wages elsewhere as there was no work in and around their villages. Apart from economic exploitation, the migrant women were vulnerable to sexual exploitation, Ms. Sundararaman said.

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