By Oxfam India:
I was never educated. I was married at a young age when I neither understood the value of education nor the repercussions of child marriage. While I had never even seen the insides of a school, my husband had already passed 10th standard. After we got married, he also cleared the ITI exam. And that’s when the problems really started. Suddenly my lack of an education became the reason why he began to consider me inferior to him. For as long as I stayed at my in-laws place, he maintained no relationship with me whatsoever. He treated me like an unwanted element. He wouldn’t talk to me or look at me. I wasn’t even allowed to serve food to him. We were more like two strangers living in the same hotel.
I had nowhere to go. My mother was suffering from a psychological disorder and my father had passed away. My younger brother was only 15 years old back then and was in no position to support me either.
Even though there was no physical abuse, I suffered tremendously due to such insulting and demeaning behaviour. To the world he projected that we were just another happily married couple, but the truth was that he wouldn’t even touch me.
Of the seven years that I was married to him, I spent five years at my parents’ home. I asked him that if he didn’t wish to live with me, he should give me a divorce. But that too was unacceptable to him. Primarily because in our community, if husbands come forth asking for a divorce, they are liable to pay an alimony, which he did not want to.
He was waiting for me to ask him for a divorce. I didn’t want one. I wanted to make the marriage work, however remote the possibility was. For an entire year, I sought for a solution through community intervention, police and court, but to no avail.
About a year back I came to know about the women’s support centre of AWAG (Ahmedabad Women’s Action Group). My relatives in Disa had been to the Nari Sahayak Kendra from where they sought guidance on my case and we were directed to the Patna Nari Sahayak Kendra, since I lived in Patna.
Chetana, my legal counsel at Patna Nari Sahayak Kendra explained to me why there was no point in dragging onwards with an already dead relationship. Before coming to the Centre, I had no place to go and thus I felt compelled to continue my marriage. I felt stuck in a situation where I could neither get my husband’s love nor I could leave him and move on with my life. Chetana explained to me how staying in this demeaning relationship was lowering my self-esteem.
At the Sahayak Kendra, I was counselled on my rights along with my husband. After four counselling sessions, my husband opened up about his feelings and admitted that he did not want to continue living with me.
A case for divorce was thus filed and two months back I got a divorce from my husband and also received 50,000 rupees as compensation along with my jewellery from in-laws.
I now live with my relatives in Patna and work as a daily wage labourer on farms. I feel so relieved now. I am even open to remarriage.
While working in the fields, I often think of the kind of man I would want to live with. I feel I should have someone who respects me for who I am. When I got married I was just an immature child. I had no opinions of my own. Now I have learnt a lot in life. This time when I choose a partner, I will be judicious in my choice.