Generations of women along the coast of Tamil Nadu have been harvesting seaweed to sustain their families. Unable to afford proper diving suits, these women dive in the sea wearing sarees.
In a twitter thread, Aamir shares how these women, between 20-70 years of age, can't afford a diving suit, a mask, or an oxygen cylinder. Out of sheer necessity of earning a living, every day these women 'take a leap of faith' and dive in.
The harvesting majorly happens near Gulf of Mannar and Rameswaram island.
Unlike the conventional divers, these women – aged between 20 and 70 – cannot afford a diving suit, a mask or an oxygen cylinder. So these sari-clad divers take a leap of faith every time they dive into the sea for a rather pressing concern- to earn a living. pic.twitter.com/AABvHi6qQh— Aamir Peerzada (@AamirPeerzadaa) February 5, 2019
With no other opportunity to sustain their families, these women are only able to earn about $115 -$140 a month (which is about ₹8238 - ₹10,028, according to the current exchange rate.)
Used to make drugs and chemicals and as a thickening agent in food, seaweed is high in demand, which is adversely impacting its availability. This has also reduced the number of days these women can go diving in the sea. While earlier they used to dive in everyday of the month, now they only go harvesting 12-15 days a month.
They also talk to one of the divers, Namthai, who's in her mid 70s and has been collecting seaweed since she was 13.
Known as 'brave grandma', Namthai can only collect 15 kgs of seaweed in a day due to her old age, whereas a young person can fetch up to 50 kgs in a day. She says,
"As long as I have energy, I will go to work in the sea. I will eat with that income and will wait for god to take me back."
According to Better India, these women sustain injuries from harvesting bare hand. To protect themselves from the harm, all they can do is wrap a piece of cloth around their fingers and fasten it with a rubber band.
The dedication of these women, supporting themselves and their families, given the bare minimum resources they have, is eyeopening. They are essentially winning the rough, tough and wild world, clad in their sarees for generations now, age no bar.