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Marriage, Work and Education among Domestic Workers in Kolkata

This paper analyses the findings of a research project undertaken by the School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University on questions of marriage and related issues in the context of paid domestic work among the working women from two squatter colonies in Kolkata. The respondents are seen to be caught between the imperatives of early marriage and girlhood employment, but they insist upon the value of education for their daughters. Many of them have experienced and suffered early marriage and childbirth and are vehement in their rejection of such a trajectory for their daughters, even though not all of them are able to carry through such decisions. Parents from urban working-class neighbourhoods are not obsessed with sexual chastity of their daughters; they accept courtships and elopements, sometimes hailing the latter with some relief. What these mothers share with their middle class counterparts is an interest in tremendous investment in their children's education, which is in both cases accompanied by great expectations for the future.

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