Hyderabad: A photo of a woman carrying luggage on her head is being widely shared on social media with the claim that she is India's first female coolie. The text on the image says she lost her husband in 2016 and has three children to look after.
A Twitter user who shared the photo, wrote, "Meet Sandhya Marawi, India's 1st #Woman Coolie. She works at Katni Junction #MadhyaPradesh. Took over responsibilities of 3 children as well as bread earner when her husband passed away. Every day travels 45 Kms each way."
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The claim is misleading.
NewsMeter performed a keyword search which led us to a video on India Today's YouTube channel from 27 September 2018. The description read, "India's first woman coolie Manju Devi and a scientist of the Krishti Vigyan Kendra Saroj Choudhary spoke about her struggles on breaking gender stereotypes in their respective fields at the India Today Woman Summit & Awards 2018 in Jaipur."
We then found a video uploaded on NDTV's YouTube channel in 2013 titled "Manju, Rajasthan's first woman coolie (porter)". According to the description, "Several passengers at the Jaipur Railway Station find themselves in a dilemma when they come across 33-year-old Manju. The mother of three is a coolie at the station, offering to carry the heavy luggage of passengers."
A report by Business Line published on 17 March 2013 titled "Mother of three becomes first woman coolie in Rajasthan", said Manju Devi, a 33-year-old widow and mother of three, had chosen the male-dominated profession of a railway coolie, becoming the first woman porter in Rajasthan. She decided to become a coolie after the death of her husband who was also a porter, it said.
We tried to find out who Sandhya Marawi is and performed another keyword search. The search led us to a report by Dainik Bhaskar published from 2017. It said 30-year-old Sandhya Marawi, a mother of three, became a coolie after her husband's death.
"Sandhya said her husband Bholaram Maravi died on 22 October 2016 due to illness. After his death, she started worrying about the expenses of the house. She talked to acquaintances and came to know that she could get her husband's job on grounds of compassion. She then decided to become a porter," the report said.
It added that Sandhya has been working as a porter since 2017. She was the first female coolie in Katni station.
It is evident that the claim that the photo shows Sandhya Marawi, India's first female porter, is misleading. It is Manju Devi from Jaipur who started the work in 2013, who is the first female porter.