Goa government recognises women porters

Joaquina Coloco, 70, was glued to the TV set in her Margao house as Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat delivered his budget speech on March 17.

Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 14:39 PM IST

Panaji: Joaquina Coloco, 70, was glued to
the TV set in her Margao house as Goa Chief Minister Digambar
Kamat delivered his budget speech on March 17.

Though she does not understand much English, she was
delighted when Kamat read out a paragraph mentioning Bhadels
-- Goa`s women coolies who carry loads on their heads for a
living while walking long distances.
"Bhadels, belonging to an ST community, who work and give
their services to the shopkeepers and business community, is
an age-old institution by itself.

During the Golden Jubilee year (of Goa`s liberation), I
want to recognise their selfless service to the society by
honouring them with a one-time honorarium of Rs 25,000 to
those who have put in at least 25 years of service," Kamat
said.
Joaquina belongs to a centuries-old profession of
women porters who track their origins to the Portuguese era,
emerging sometime in the mid-18th century.

Believed to be Asia`s only women coolies, Bhadels have
been impacted by modernisation and influx of male coolies from
neighbouring states in current times.

The reliability of Bhadels is legendary.

During the Portuguese rule, and even till recently, the
local shopkeepers in Margao town used to ask Bhadels to watch
over the shops during their siesta-time.

PTI