Several women struggling to repay loans to private banksIMPHAL | Sep 15
In the last few years, there has been a wave of incidents where several women hailing from poor backgrounds in the State, have been found attempting to sell their internal organs after being unable to repay the loans they had taken from private banks. A rise in cases of depression among such women has also been reported.
Many poor women who are in such a condition are being hounded by debt collectors and bank representatives in uniforms, who would visit their homes from early in the morning to recollect the sum. They would take away households items and belongings from the indebted families when they fail to repay the debts. Not only their belongings are taken, many helpless women in such a circumstance would also be verbally abused by the bank representatives, causing trauma and depression as a result. Some have even attempted to commit suicide with the hope that their debts will be somehow lifted after their death.
While visiting these indebted women and interacting with them, it was learnt that most of them are widows or their husbands have become addicts and stopped looking after them. Since there are no sources of income, they were found struggling make ends meet or trying to deliver education for their children.
On the other hand, it was found that some of these women have gone through a break up in their families after being unable to pay their share of money to self help groups. In one case, a family was found joining five self help groups. As they could not repay the money to one particular group, they joined another to pay the other and ended up joining at least five self help groups.
One woman who was heavily indebted with loans expressed that her mother had taken loans from a private bank to run the family. She said that her mother who used to work as a vendor, not only had taken loans from private bank but also taken money from private money lenders.
She is now working at a shop to repay all the indebted money but unable to repay the full amount on a monthly basis. She earns Rs. 9000 on a month but has to pay more than Rs. 8000 including interest on a weekly basis. She feels completely at loss what steps to take up as she is hounded by debt collectors who are visiting her frequently and threatening her that her personal belongings would be taken away if she does not repay her loans.
She had tried to sell her kidney as a desperate attempt but after finding out that she would be getting only around Rs. 1.5 lakh and would be still be left indebted, she is in dilemma and unable to take up.
A woman who is paying Rs. 3000 on a monthly basis after taking a loan Rs. 3 lakhs from Lamjingba Finance, stated that she was made to register her land and house as a surety to the name of Lamjingba Finance.
She was to repay a sum of Rs. 3, 50, 000 with interest and after paying a monthly amount of Rs. 2,230, she could no longer pay it.
A woman looking after two young children stated that after her husband became an alcoholic and completely stopped looking after them, she took a sum of Rs. 10,000 from a money lender to meet some of her daily requirements. She has been repaying a monthly sum of Rs. 1300 and earns her money by selling vegetables. She further expressed that she has been unable to repay the money for several months. The debt collectors have already taken her TV set from her home. She is also suffering from domestic violence. There were several other women who expressed that they are going trough similar circumstances.
They expressed that they do not have proper business venture etc., where they can put some savings and earn some revenue. “We are in fault for being unable to repay the loans but we feel extremely ashamed even to step out of the house in the locality, after being verbally attacked by bank representatives who have taken away our properties.”
It may be mentioned that there is a rapid increase in the number of micro-finance banks in the State. In some of the banks, loanees are required to register their properties as surety and sometimes the registration is changed to the name of these finance groups when the loanees are unable to repay the loan, eventually leading the banks to take over the entire properties.
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