OP-ED

Daughter of the Himalayas under discrimination


By Ananda Gautam

A porter carrying a load up to Kanchenjunga base camp is paid 1,200 rupees as wages. But Lakpa Sherpa, a female porter of Taplejung received only 800 rupees for doing the same job at the same place in the October season (September and October). The journey which had started at the Suketar airport at Taplejung had taken 22 days to reach the base camp. The load she carried was no lighter than the one carried by her male counterpart. But her wages was 400 rupees less than that of her male counterpart.

Pemba Sherpa of Sawadin has also borne with the same kind of discrimination. Pemba who goes there at two seasons to work as a porter, carries a pannier, trekking bag and an oxygen cylinder. She travels at the altitude of 6,000 meters with a load on her back and a strap on her head. ‘When we reach high Himalayan mountains, no one feels we are women and deserve assistance from our male counterparts’. At the time of payment of our remuneration, the team leader, Sardar and our own male counterparts give us less amount.
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Not only those women who carry load consisting of trekking gears, even those who carry load for shop owners at a lower altitude also bear the brunt of discrimination. Resident of Taplejung Municipality Ward No. 8 Kalpana BK says, ‘they provide 15 rupees for a man to carry a sack, whereas women are only paid 10 rupees for doing the same work. If I demand for 15 rupees per sack, they give me a packet of biscuit saying that I should take it for my children. BK says, ‘I also carry a sack weighing 40 kilograms. The men also carry the same load. But I am paid 5 rupees less than they are paid.

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