A Lifeline for Distressed Women
Women burdened with the curse of poverty and sorrows have opened a new chapter of their lives through shop-keeping in the 'Boubazaar' (Market of female shopkeepers) adjacent to the Satdoha cremation ground area, a suburb of Magura town. The bazaar was opened in 2004 for the welfare of troubled women with cooperation of local elites and the cremation ground committee.
A vegetable vendor at Boubazar in Magura
Shopkeepers at the bazaar are entirely woman and vast majority of them are either divorced or were widowed at an early age. Such women now own and operate different shops at the bazaar. Some of them are vegetable vendors and some own stationary shops while one of them even is engaged in fish trading. Although customer of all classes come to the Boubazaar, but female customers are most prominent here as all the shop-keepers and vendors here are women.
“I always find it more comfortable to shop at Boubazaar as bargaining with a female shop-keeper is easier than bargaining with a male shop-keeper”, said Sheuly Begum a housewife of the adjoining village - Parla. Sheuly stated that the bazaar has also opened a window for the local housewives to evade dependence on their husbands or male members of their families.
Nine female shopkeepers who have been running their business in the tin-shed buildings and makeshift shops built using their own expenditure at the Satdoha Boubazaar are: Alladi Biswas, Jyotsna Biswas, Suchitra Biswas, Jamuna Rani Sarkar, Niva Rani Biswas, Rekha Rani, Bhanu Sarkar, Minoti Rani and Urboshi Biswas. The bazaar is located adjacent to the Satdoha Cremation ground. Although, the land is owned by the cremation ground committee, the committee doesn't ask the women for rent as they are feel sympathetic towards the misfortunate women. Satdoha bazaar remains opened everyday of the week without a day off. But the vendors and shopkeepers take a break for two hours every day from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm.
Jamuna Rani Sarkar, a widow, talking to Star Insight said that she was married off at an early age with Iswar Shambhunath Sarkar of the Satdoha area. Who later passed away 16 years ago leaving behind her their only son - Shailendronath Sarkar.
Poverty-stricken Jamuna set up a stationary shop in a tin shed building at the bazaar four years ago with an investment of Tk 10,000 that she acquired by selling her ornaments. After maintaining her family expenditure, to expand her business Jamuna has bought a refrigerator using the earnings she saved up over the last several years. In doing so selling at her shop has increased recently as she is now able to provide the customers with cold beverages.
Jyotsna Biswas, whose husband ran away to India about 12 years ago left her along with a son and a daughter, now sells vegetable at a makeshift shed in the bazaar. She earns Tk 120 to 130 from selling vegetable and somehow maintains her family of three, and despite various troubles Jyotsna is happy as she now considers herself self reliant.
Suchitra Biswas a mother of two children sells fish from her makeshift shed and with her little income she admitted her daughter Susmita to class one.
(R) thedailystar.net 2012