Tackle problem of unwed mothers in tribal area: HC to machinery, NGOs

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Aug 2017 10:02:01


Staff Reporter,

The PIL had highlighted an unhealthy unsavory practice of unwed mothers prevalent in Kolam Tribe in Zari Jamni and other Tahsils of Yavatmal district

Exhorting the official machinery, elected representative and social workers to create awareness about problem of unwed mothers in tribal belt of Yavatmal district, Nagour bench of Bombay High Court has directed all the stakeholders to work in tandem.

The High Court while expressing deep concern over issue of young tribal girls exploited by contractors, asked the petitioner-NGO’s Natural Resources Conservators Organisation and Adiwasi Samaj Kruti Samiti to meet District Collector and directed the respondent authorities to convene a meeting of the desired elected representatives and government officers alongwith representatives of petitioners to find out how the Tribe people spread over in the area can be taught and instructed about ill-effects of the prevalent system.

The PIL had highlighted an unhealthy unsavory practice of unwed mothers prevalent in Kolam Tribe in Zari Jamni and other Tahsils of District Yavatmal, particularly in 404 villages adjacent to Andhra Pradesh border. The cause according to petitioners is some belief or custom in the community i.e. internal to the Tribe. Petitioners claimed that contractors who get work in that area or employ Tribe people are also partly responsible.

According to official figures, about 172 unmarried mothers were found in 9 Talukas of Yavatmal District. Out of them, 58 got married and settled down with their husband while 40 unmarried mothers were not ready and willing to give any information, 3 had died. Remaining 97 unmarried mothers were found eligible for receipt of benefits under various welfare schemes of State Government. The petitioner NGOs suggested that Tata Institute of Social Sciences may be asked to conduct a survey and thereafter appropriate measures can be suggested.

Though number of unwed mothers was disputed, the High Court made it clear that instead of fighting over numbers, the topmost priority should be accorded effectively oppose unhalthy tradition or abuse by Contractors.

This can only be done by social workers or government servants by effectively assisting the Tribe people, the High Court noted while making it clear that courts do not possess any expertise to address the complex problem while expecting NGOs. Top officials like Collector, Tahsildar or elected representatives like Members of Legislative Assembly, Zilla Parishad, Municipal Council or other local body members will definitely help the Kolam Tribe to get rid of any such custom or free themselves from influence and clutches of contractors.

This can be achieved only through proper education and instructions.
The High Court has posted the next hearing on October 11 while directing the Collector to hold such a meeting within eight weeks and place on record measures worked out in that meeting or steps taken pursuant thereto.
Adv E S Sahasrabuddhe appeared for the petitioners while Addl Gp Deepak Thakre represented the state.