Air of neglect all over
Labonya was fetching boiled water from the kitchen of her hostel. Suddenly she tripped and fell. And hot water splashed all over her body.
With serious burns, she was taken to the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) where she received treatment for nearly three weeks.
Labonya, a boarder of Karmajibi Mohila (working women) Hostel at Nilkhet, has now recovered and joined her workplace. But the situation is unchanged at the hostel.
The hostel authorities do not provide pure drinking water for its boarders, forcing them to carry hot water from the ground-floor kitchen to the upper floors of the 10-storey hostel.
“It is very easy to arrange drinking water for the boarders by setting up filters at every floor. But the authorities do not pay heed and ignore the 'citizen charter' of the hostel that reads the hostel authorities will supply pure drinking water,” said Labonya.
The boarders have many other complaints -- low quality food served at the dining hall, dirty environment, and harsh behaviour of some matrons and class-four employees.
The hostel staffs do not clean bathrooms and toilets regularly. No one cares if the water taps are out of order. For months the basins remain unusable, alleged the boarders.
“Often we have to cook inside the rooms using kerosene stoves because the food that they served is of low quality,” said Nila, another boarder.
Most of the boarders said they will not hesitate to pay more for better food.
Water crisis becomes severe in the summer that forces the boarders to store water in buckets in front of the bathroom where long queues are seen every morning.
The hostel building has two lifts, but one is out of order.
“The government hostel is considered a comparatively safer residence for working women, but getting a seat in this hostel is quite difficult,” said another boarder.
It is alleged that many students are staying at the hostel posing as working women. Using false appointment letters and through lobbying they managed seats there.
“You will see around 40 percent of the boarders are students. The authorities know it very well but they would not take action,” said a boarder seeking anonymity.
According to rules, a student can stay at the hostel for maximum 4 years, but many of the boarders have been staying there for about 6/7 years.
Asked about the shortage of seats, Director General of the Directorate of Women Affairs Ekram Ahmed said they are now considering 400 applications.
“We have already sent notice to the boarders who are students and who have been staying at the hostel for more than five years,” he said.
Asked about the student boarders, Ekram said it is not possible to go to the offices of every applicant to verify whether they are really working woman.
Superintendent of the hostel Umme Mahmuda Khanam said some 60 women are staying at the hostel for more than five years.
On the issue of pure drinking water, the hostel super said tube-wells would be set up on the hostel premises 'soon' to ensure supply of safe drinking water.
There are two other working women's hostel in the city --at Khilgaon and at Mirpur -- where more than 750 women are staying.