Between the Trump Tower in Kalyani Nagar and the proposed Sangam city near Deccan College what lies is an area of crowded lanes and cramped homes of Laxmi Nagar. The children and women here are severely malnourished. Through this five part series, Sakal Times explores the reasons for malnutrition and how the administration
can work for a healthier future.
Pune: Most men from the families staying in Laxmi Nagar are alcoholic, hence earning for their families becomes an additional burden for the women in this area. Many women earn peanuts as domestic helps and have to take care of food, rent and education of their children.
In this backdrop, women from the low-income groups find it difficult to get daily nutrition amid the struggle to survive. They also face domestic violence. According to the National Health Family Survey (NFHS- 4), 16.4 per cent women in Maharashtra face domestic violence.
Addiction & survival
Priyanka Gawali recently started working as a domestic help and earns Rs 1,000 per month. However, her husband, who does not earn a penny, has asked her to quit.
“My husband used to work as a painter. But now his drinking problem has increased and he does not want to work. I have two sons. I lost my third son when he was 10 months old because his heart was ten times the expected size. My doctor had asked me about my nutrition when I was pregnant,” said Gawali.
During her third pregnancy, she lived off a biscuit and tea for the whole day. “During my pregnancy, my husband was not earning a penny. Then and even today my mother-in-law supports us,” she said.
Violence during pregnancy
Anju Kharwa from the Waghari community now lives with her mother in Laxmi Nagar, said domestic violence at her in-law’s home was common.
“We got married in 2013. Everything was going fine. One day, my husband beat me up under the influence of alcohol when I was four months pregnant. I was scared for my baby. But my in-laws supported my husband. I had to undergo a sonography test to make sure that the baby was fine,” said Kharwa.
She said she was eating less despite her pregnancy due to the violent environment.
“My haemoglobin was only six when I was pregnant. After my husband attacked me, I was forced to go to my mother’s place for the sake of my child. As my mother took good care of me, my haemoglobin reached 12, just on the borderline, during my delivery. But the weight of my baby was less than three kg and we had to take special care,” said Kharwa.
Around 2.3 per cent women in urban set-up and 3.4 per cent from rural set-up in the State experience violence during pregnancy, states the NFHS-4 data. Across the country, 3.3 per cent women face domestic violence during pregnancy.
Unhealthy family environment
Archana Kaur Juni, a woman from the Sikhalgar community in Laxmi Nagar said her husband was involved in gambling and was also an alcoholic, which deeply impacted her mental well-being during and after pregnancy.
“My husband would beat me up whenever he wanted to. I used to be very scared. I would eat less due to tension, which made me severely anaemic. When I was pregnant the first time, I did not eat much as in-laws and my husband would often complain. When my baby boy was born, no one was happy. Before my delivery after one such unpleasant fight at my in-law’s place, my blood pressure shot up and I was admitted to the hospital, which led to my delivery. Also, the baby boy was barely two kg and severely malnourished,” said Juni.
She said her husband was disappointed with the weight of the child. “He would often taunt me when he came home drunk that the boy was thin. My second child is a girl, which further disappointed him. He sent me home to live with my mother,” said Juni.
According to the NFHS-4, around 49.3 per cent pregnant women between 15 and 49 years are anaemic in Maharashtra. The number for Pune district is 40 per cent.