Conversational and Observational Survey on The impact of Slum Settings on Adolescent Girls
Chandan talks to girls at the nearby slums of Munirka, New Delhi - looking at the impact of their surroundings, living conditions, daily wage activities, family and kinship inequalities.
Seen from the standpoint of an adolescent girl, who has spent the early years of her life at home in some distant villages, it can be difficult to imagine what goes on and what she goes through on a daily basis, once she and her family has to migrate towards the metropolitan in search of jobs, and new life, and settle in the engulfing and exploitative gaze of the slum settlement as a space to be lived in.
At home, the degree of familiarity and the feeling of being at home, is comparatively better (when seen in the comparative context of her life in a slum) but at the same time exploitative as well, in terms of the regulatory nature of the society she is a part of. In a slum, the family living in it, is the victim of socio-economic deprivation. Here, slum can be seen as the site that promotes the urbanization of poverty and adds to the increasing gap between the dream, which had driven the family to the urban landscape and the fulfillment of the tiny part of the dream that was met by the family. The mention of the family, in the situation, is not just any particular family, but the representative of all the families across the world that move towards the cities with the identical hopes and dreams for a better opportunity and better life.
But, what really happens to the adolescent girl, who is a part of that migrant family? In the hierarchy of the familial as well as the spatial order, she is always treated to be someone, whose agency can always be taken for granted, guided, and controlled. The awareness towards her own requirements, choices, and opinions on any of the matters that occur within or out of the family is of no concern to anyone. Whenever she raises the problems that she faces in the slum settlement from other neighboring members, her parents respond as if the things and issues she is talking about, does not exist or that are not the real problem that would affect them. Yes, it certainly will not affect them directly, as they are driven towards the fulfillment of economic stability, and in my opinion, things for these families are rather more complex and intertwined within themselves. None supports the adjacent issues and problems that are faced by those adolescent girls. Whom should we blame in such a Kafkaesque situation, where nobody knows what to do to solve the inevitable circle of fundamental problems faced by the adolescent girls.
There are several child rights care & protection organizations, and NGOs, that work towards the making of the living space inclusive and aware of the problems faced by adolescent girls and children. These organizations do a grass-root level research to analyze and find specific solutions required in the individual cases.
To change such a situational problem means to be with the participants. While having this conversation with the adolescent girls living in the slum nearby, helped me have a look into such layered and almost invisible difficulties faced by them on a daily basis. With the hope that such tiny endeavors from several organizations towards the concentrated cause will help them out of that abyss, I am closing my words here.
Writing based on the conversation with some adolescent girls from the slum settlement in the nearby area
Chandan Kumar is currently enrolled in Ph. D. Program in the Center for Visual Studies, SAA, JNU.
He actively writes blog on my observations and Studies of Cinema from across the world, art exhibitions, & theatre performances. He is a Content Writer Intern at Kanyaka Foundation.