Highlighting the suffering of women, four decades after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy

2nd of December, annually observed as National Pollution Control Day, to remember the nightmare that was the Bhopal Gas Tragedy of 1984. It has been 38 years since the suffering only began. With the gas leak, people had issues breathing, and instead irritation in their eyes. People who inhaled the toxic gas died. The number of deaths is still debated. Death was just the beginning of the havoc from one of the world’s biggest industrial tragedies.

People died. Children suffered from being born with deformities. People suffering from health complications because they inhaled the toxic gas on the night of 1984.

Although, unlike the patriarchal society, a gas leak knows no gender. Several reports have claimed and raised voices against the mistreatment of women in the affected areas of Bhopal.

According to a report by Amnesty International, widows find it difficult to even make ends meet as a result of mismanagement when it comes to the pension they are rightfully entitled to. Thirty-eight years on, the compensation received by them is long exhausted and leaves them helpless to live on as destitute.

Read more here: Clouds of injustice Bhopal disaster 20 years on

Gendered impact of Bhopal Gas Tragedy

The tragedy has particularly and severely affected younger women. They are now leading lives with a stigma attached to them that society refuses to let go of. Even getting married, to a gas victim does not come without its social ramifications. The inability to bear a child and the economic burden of being a victim of the tragedy carries with it a sense of disregard in this society.

Many female victims, children at the time, who barely managed to get married, now face the social evil of domestic violence owing to their inability to “serve” their in-laws well due to physical constraints. Women face trouble finding work due to the same reasons that restrict them economically. A direct consequence is that it leaves them even more vulnerable and dependent.

32nd Anniversary, Bhopal Disaster. Main Parade and Burning of Effigies | Photos: Colin Toogood

Read more: The accident in Bhopal: 20 years later

Young girls when reaching the age of menstruation have to deal with three to four cycles per month and severe vaginal discharge that is highly abnormal.

So, when we say the society we live in isn’t gender neutral, we often forget, that it has the potential of making unimaginable things such as disasters also alike. And like the solution to every other social evil, change begins with you.

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