By Oxfam India:
Alcoholic and violent husbands like Himanshu are found in abundance in Azamgarh, a place with a very high rate of unemployment. Here, women who gather the courage to say no for the sake of themselves and their children are rare, and inspirational.
I was married at the age of 18 and have three children between the ages of 12 and 16. I came to SRSP to seek respite from my husband, who is an alcoholic and would often beat me up. I was determined that my children will not suffer because of my husband. I would have tolerated it, but when he started locking my children out of the house, I knew I had to act.
The village elders, who knew about its work, directed me to the organization. At SRSP, my children and I got shelter in the short stay home for a while and a Domestic Incident Report was filed with the Probation Officer at Social Welfare Board. My husband was asked to appear in the office. Both of us were counselled, separately and then together.
An agreement was drawn up and I decided to return home on the condition that my husband will not beat up my children or me. As Himanshu worked intermittently and always exhausted his earnings on alcohol, the organization offered me work as a cook. I also found a job under the mid-day meal scheme at a nearby primary school. My new found economic independence and the constant follow up on my case by the organization has ensured that my husband adheres to the conditions of the agreement, even though he hasn’t given up on alcohol yet.
I am also trying to cure his addiction by stealthily mixing homeopathic medicine in his food that promises to cure alcoholism. The change in circumstances has bestowed me with immense confidence.I no longer depend on him to ensure my children’s future. I will educate my daughter as much as possible. Every day I teach my sons to respect women.
Despite my father and brother promising support, I never thought of leaving my marital home. I have complete right over this house, why should I give it up? In my own way, I have also turned into a counsellor for other women in distress, and direct them to the centre.
Women like me suffer abuse because we stay silent. But I tell other women that silence does not help. There is no honour in it, and we must speak out for our rights.
We can prove that it is possible by taking action and promising to speak up.