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Akansha, A Snake Rescuer From Hyderabad, Talks About Sexism On The Job

  • IWB Post
  •  May 18, 2019

We have often seen male wildlife conservationists and snake experts who like to engage with snakes to reduce the conflict with humans and are lauded for their work, but when it comes to women doing the same job, their skills are often judged.

The Friends of Snakes is a Hyderabad-based non-profit organisation dedicated to public education about snakes and their protection. It was founded in 1995 by Late Shri. Rajkumar Kanuri and the organisation has been rescuing snakes from urban areas and rehabilitating then in forest reserve areas.

In conversation with The News Minute, 19-year-old Akansha spoke about the sexism faced by women on the job, the reaction of her parents when she expressed her wish to join the organization and the myths related to snakes. Excerpts:

Reaction from her parents

Akansha belongs to an orthodox Brahmin family and it wasn’t easy for her to convince her parents that she wants to work with this organization.

“When I told my family that I wanted to work for the conservation of snakes, they were shocked. They told me I am a girl and I am not supposed to do this job. But can a snake differentiate between a man or a woman touching it? No! Snakes are misunderstood creatures. When a cat or a dog enters your home, no one thinks of killing them. But if you are to spot a snake, the immediate instinct is to kill it. People are often discouraging when they see that a woman is doing the job. But yeah, being a woman, I also don’t think that it’s a feat that I am accomplishing. At the end of the day, I am just doing something that is close to my heart.”

On sexism

“Many a time, when people see that it’s a woman who has come to rescue the animal; it takes us a while to convince them that a woman can also do the job. And quite a few times, people have sent me back, asking for a man instead, since they believe he would be better suited for the job. ‘We cannot take this woman to the hospital if something happens to her’ is the stereotypical dialogue we hear very often at a rescue site.”

On the myths related to the reptile

The oragnisation conducts awareness programs to eradicate age-old myths and misconceptions about the gravely misunderstood creatures.

“Many believe that snakes hold vengeance, while they are a species with absolutely no memory! Many believe snakes help in digging treasure while some say they are godly incarnations. We have been able to bust many of these myths through our awareness classes, but when it comes to our own family, I have still not being able to convince them to disbelieve many of the myths, which they hold close to their religious beliefs.”

Despite the regular adventures that these brave women volunteers experience during rescue operations, Akansha shared that there have been times when they have been scared and had to seek help from outside.

“I was once at a rescue op and I got scared as I realised that I was rescuing a Russell’s Viper. The situation went out of control and the snake jumped onto a tree bark, and I could see its venom dripping on the bark. My colleague soon came to my rescue and handled the situation, but the sight of the venomous snake gave me sleepless nights for over a week.”

The organisation has about 40 women who have been trained to handle emergency calls and rescue snakes from any part of the twin cities and they give credit to the organisation as it has been pushing for more women to join the profession.

H/T: The News Minute 

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