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“You Are As Useless As The Daughters You Bear”, He Told Me

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By Oxfam India:

There was a time when I was too timid to even verbally protest against my abusive husband. But after struggling for a long time, I have now ensured a good life for my daughter and me. Today, with the support of the organization Vanangana, in Uttar Pradesh, we are confident that justice will be done.

My trials began sixteen years ago; the day my one-year-old daughter, Meethi, succumbed to fever and cough that she was suffering from, since over a month. My husband, Anil Prasad, is a schoolteacher by profession. Every time I asked him for money for the treatment of my daughter, I was told that it is worthless to invest in a girl child.

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I am an illiterate woman and I was married to him at a young age of 15. My father took care of all wedding arrangements to the best of his abilities, but that was not enough to satisfy the greed of my husband and in-laws. They taunted me each day for not bringing enough dowry.

After the birth of my first daughter, I was subjected to physical and verbal abuse. My lack of education, the way I spoke, my cooking skills – anything and everything prompted my husband to hit me. By the time my second and third daughters were born, he had started bringing other women home. Like Meethi, my youngest daughter Isha also died due to lack of medical treatment. He told me, “You are as useless as the daughters you bear.”

I slipped into depression. My father brought me back home, thinking that a change of place might be good for me. I had just begun to cope with the loss of my daughters when my husband sent a divorce notice. To him, the death of our daughters meant nothing; their existence and their death was just another event.

When my father went to reason with Anil, he was abused and shooed away. I then filed a case under Section 498 A of the IPC for dowry harassment. Perturbed by the move and fearing social ridicule, Anil requested me to come back and promised that he will never mistreat me again. After going back I found that he had already married someone else. I was still hoping for a change and was mindful of social sanctions. Thus, I agreed to share the home.

However, things only got worse as Anil’s second wife devised her own ways to drive me out of the house. She did not give me any food and often locked me up. My husband resumed his daily ritual of abuse.

A year later, I was completely broken, but determined to piece my life back together. I returned to my father’s place and approached Vanangana for help. As I had asked, the organization helped me file a case for maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. A year later, the court ordered that I should be paid Rs.1500 per month. For a few months Anil complied, but later challenged the decision in High Court, where the case is still pending.

In the meantime, Vanangana had started helping me so that I could become economically independent. I was trained in sewing and they also helped me in setting up a small provision store. However, due to my trusting nature, I found it impossible to say no to those who wanted to buy on credit and that made the shop unviable.

I now work as a daily wage labourer and carry bricks at a construction site for Rs.100 per day. My husband once sent the word that he is willing to take care of my daughter if she went and lived with him, but I refused. I am confident that I will be able to take care of her on my own. Besides, I don’t trust him anymore. He never took care of her when she was little!

My daughter, Pinki, is studying in 8th standard in a private school. Vanangana chips in for her school fees. She does not want to go back to her father. “He might give me comforts, but I have decided to fight alongside my mother”, she says.

Together, we are determined to win.

You must be to comment.
    1. Ayesha Bhaidani

      I love reading posts on YKA but then each one is ruined by the first comment- Babar telling the world how much he hates women. This comment had nothing to do with this post. Are you trying to say she was lying about the abuse? Or that she abused her husband? please look at what the post is trying to say before you start saying women are evil.

    2. Babar

      I didn’t say women are evil. I am only highlighting the bigotry of feminists. Why don’t feminists talk about violence against men, why don’t feminists talk about false allegations of domestic violence against men, feminists will not even talk about violence perpetrated by mothers-in-law – feminists only want to show men in bad light.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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Read more about the campaign here.

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The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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