Life for those people who are living in the coastal villages of Kerala has revolved around fishing since ancient time. And it had always been the males who risked into the deepest oceans and braved the bumpiest cyclone to bring back a bountiful haul, while females were expected to just sit back at their shore-lined settlements praying for their spouse’s safety.
But, there is one woman from a fishing hamlet of Chettuva in Thrissur who refused to accept the age-old stereotypes and taboos about the fishermen community and today KC Rekha is India’s only licensed deep-sea fisherwoman, Waaoow!! Gambling into the deep and rough waters of the Arabian sea on a 20-year-old single-engine boat, she has been confidently battling the odds from the time she had stepped in to join her spouse P Karthikeyan as a deckhand approx. 13 years ago.
Without life jackets, GPS device, a compass or kind of modern navigation system, this couple has been surviving the volatile tides on a daily routine with the loyal trust that Kadalamma, the sea goddess worshipped by innumerable fishermen communities, will bring them home safely. It had been out of calamity that led the 45-year-old Rekha, mother of four to take up a profession strictly out of bounds for women when the family couldn’t afford to pay their workers further. Despite facing absolute dismissal by associate community members, but Rekha remained stubborn with her spouse.
Having suffered from seasickness earlier, Rekha took this upon herself to gain knowledge even the most basic of fishing skills from her spouse and eventually eclipsed even the ability of her seasoned counterpart. As of her national identity, it was following an assiduous and broad research by Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) that she was found to be the only women in the country who is fishing alone deep waters of the coastline.
Recognising her courage and elasticity, Rekha was felicitated by Mr Sudarshan Bhagat, Union minister of state agriculture at an event in April. Rekha also received the first-ever fisherperson license in India to be granted upon any women till date. Moreover, the couple was supported with financial and technical support by CMFRI to start cage farming in the border of the support and were supplied with fish seedlings and cage as well. To a bonus, the agency has helped to get their elder daughter, a class 12 student, scholarship of Rs 1Lakh.
For a female who broke the stereotypes by sailing into the deep ocean to relieve the stress of her family’s livelihood, Rekha stands tall as a fisherwoman. We just hope that more women across the entire country should learn from and the enter their desire field fearlessly.
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