Brutal expose

Published: Sunday 31 October 2004

-- (Credit: P Madhavan)Visakhapatanam Women and Mining

P Madhavan's photographs are hard-hitting. 'Motherhood in the pits: Means of Livelihood or Road to Death?' presents 27 stark images on the hidden brutality of life for women in Indian mines: exposure to deadly asbestos dust in Dergarh; chromium-contaminated drinking water in Orissa's chromite mines, where women suffer severe respiratory problems and babies are born physically handicapped; the nine month pregnant Sairna, who loads sandstone eight hours a daily in Jodphur.

Meanwhile the government turns a blind eye to their plight. With no laws to safeguard their economic rights, and lacking alternative sources of employment, these women are at the mercy of the corporations which exploit them. Their labour is guaranteed at any price, with tragic human consequences. Madhavan's exhibition is a brutal and vital expose of the forgotten lives behind the mines of India.

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