People often make the mistaken assumption that women are weak and fragile and as a result, they are not as brave as their male counterparts. This misconception has been passed on over decades and it can often be attributed to the roles women play in movies or TV shows, where they are sometimes depicted as item girls. Research, however, disagrees with this belief, and studies have found that women are in fact braver than men.
I’d like to share a story about a woman who truly breaks the myth that women are weak or cowardly. Manju, a woman from Samstipur, Bihar has been working in a post-mortem room as a helper of doctors for the last 17 years. She is considered to be the right hand of the doctors, and without her, a post-mortem is next to impossible in Sadar Hospital, Smastipur. She has operated on more than 18,000 dead bodies since 2002.
This is what she said about her work at the hospital:
“This is my family business and was firstly run by my father-in-law and husband. After the death of my husband, Mother-in-law took over the business and I also worked with her as an intern. After my mother-in-law died, I was responsible for my whole family, including four sons and one daughter. Now, I am considered as the whole and soul of the Post-mortem room. I tell the doctors the whole report, whether the death is caused due to poison or murder”.
She has been earning Rs. 110 per day as a salary for the last 15 years. She regularly asked the hospital authorities for a permanent job or and to increase her salary, but she has been denied on every occasion. She has also approached the Chief- Minister, Nitish Kumar, but the result is never in her favour. Her daily wage remains the same regardless of the number of corpses she works on in a day. On days when there is no work, she is often paid zero; this happens when no dead bodies are received for post-mortem. She has five children out of which one daughter was married in 2014 and the expense for marriage was paid by the same salary. Now, her son also works in the same hospital as her. Manju, through her work and dedication, sets an example for all those people who consider women as showpieces for entertainment or best suited for only housework.