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Showing posts from 2017
(Patna) “We are part of a self-help group. A number of women in our village come together to make baskets, home decor and other items from these straws. We finish our household work and then we sit together to weave.”

(Women in Self-Help Groups: These are stories of women living across Bihar who are affiliated with various self-help groups. Women in small towns and villages gather together to initiate small-scale businesses to improve their socio-economic status.)
(Patna) “I enjoy this work and being independent and busy.”

(Women in Self-Help Groups: These are stories of women living across Bihar who are affiliated with various self-help groups. Women in small towns and villages gather together to initiate small-scale businesses to improve their socio-economic status.)
(Patna) “We sell channa (black chick peas), sattu (chick pea flour), besan (gram flour) badi and dalauri (snack items made of rice and lentils).We are part of an organisation where we make all this and we keep the profit from the sales. We use our time and our own money to make these items.”
(Women in Self-Help Groups: These are stories of women living across Bihar who are affiliated with various self-help groups. Women in small towns and villages gather together to initiate small-scale businesses to improve their socio-economic status.)
(Patna) “As a kid I used to live in a village. There were rumours of a ghost in the village. If somebody fell down from a tree, people used to claim that a ghost had possessed him. This led to more scary thoughts which got entrenched in my mind. Many years ago one of my aunt died and I had to go to my sister’s place. My sister was so scared that she held my hand to go to the other rooms or even to the bathroom. I was scared too. That night we all slept in one room: the kids, my sister, the domestic help and me. But my sister didn’t let anyone sleep all night. She felt that our aunt is standing behind her. It was one of the scariest night of our lives.
People used to talk about a headless person in our village. As soon as it got dark, people in the entire village would scream that the headless person is coming. Everyone would rush inside this house and quickly shut their doors. They would light a big fire right outside their doors because it was believed the headless person didn’t come …
(New Delhi) “I have been studying here since I was a kid, from the time I was only 5-6 years old. Now I am 12 years old. I study everything that is taught here and the books that we get from school. My parents work in agricultural field. I want to become an engineer.” (Stories from Under the Bridge School, New Delhi: Watch more about this school on YouTube:
(New Delhi) “I have been studying here for last 2-3 years. I study everything here: Hindi, English, Maths. We take out time to play too.”
(New Delhi) “I have been studying here for last one year. I have learnt a lot of things since I have started coming here. Rajesh Sir got my admission done here in this tuition. Now I am going to class 10th. I have been coming here since I was in class 8. This place provides free tuition, there is no money charged here. I come here to study and when I get time then I teach kids. I have been teaching for last one month. I enjoy teaching here. I want to study to become a lawyer. ”

(Stories from Under the Bridge School, New Delhi: Watch more about this school on YouTube:
(New Delhi) “My father works as a security guard and has late night shifts everyday and my mother works too. I like studying here. Everybody here is my friend.”

(Stories from Under the Bridge School, New Delhi: Watch more about this school on YouTube:
(New Delhi) “I have been studying here for last 2-3 years. I have been teaching for last 1-2 months. I really enjoy teaching. I want to become a teacher.”
(Stories from Under the Bridge School, New Delhi: Watch more about this school on YouTube:
(New Delhi) “I have been studying here for 2-3 years. My parents work in agricultural fields. We don’t have to pay any fees here. I love to apply mehendi (henna design).”
(Stories from Under the Bridge School, New Delhi: Watch more about this school on YouTube:
(New Delhi) “I came here two years ago.”

Her teacher: “She is good in studies. Once she decides to learn something then she quickly learns it. She knows more than the class fifth students here. She knows everything counting, name of months and days.”
(New Delhi) “I have been studying here for a long time. Rani is my only friend here.”
(Stories from Under the Bridge School, New Delhi: To learn more about this school follow us on YouTube:

(New Delhi) “I have been teaching here for over seven months. I teach almost all the subjects for students up to the fifth grade level and I teach Maths to the students of 10th grade. 
I am a housewife. My kids are all grown up now. My son is doing B.Tech and my daughter has just finished her class 10. I felt free from most of the household chores and I had free time which I wanted to put it to good use. I had heard a lot about the Under the Bridge school including interviews of Rajesh Sharma (who started the school) on the radio. After hearing about this school, I was sure that I wanted to go there and help in teaching poor kids. My husband also encouraged me to take out time for this noble cause. So the family was very supportive and encouraging and very soon I started working here. 
Children here study diligently. A little effort is required on both their and our part. Sometimes students studying in sixth and seventh grade of local school are unable to read simple Hindi. So we need t…
With this picture of incredible women who survived acid attacks, I am starting the stories that I collected between January to April 2017. I would also take this opportunity to thank all my readers for their love and support and encouraging words. 

If you want to share your thoughts or story or you know of anyone who would like to share their story with For Women In India community, then please do leave a comment or message with your name and name of your city. As and when I get a chance to visit your city, I will definitely get in touch with you. 

Keep smiling and stay positive.
An Ode to Stories from 2016: I cannot thank enough all these incredible women who took a plunge with me and remain a source of inspiration for me and for women at large. To all these amazing women of India: THANK YOU

I hope that my friends, family and our community here at For Women In India will be happy to know that we now have an online resource centre for women who are facing any kind of distress. Please do check it out and share your thoughts on how we can do better for women in our country.
(New Delhi)“Duringmytrainings and discussion on laws related to immoral trafficking, I always ask participants who is immoral in these cases and the answer is vague. My next question is how many names do we have for sex workers? They come out with many names. Then I ask them how many names do they have for the person who goes to her? They respond with “client” and “customer” which are considered respectable. 
My next question is why a woman does such a thing. The general response is that women want to earn ‘easy money’. I take them through the statistics to explain what “easy way of earning money” entails. 
Sex is either for pleasure or for love or within the social commitment of marriage. But the sex which is sold has no element of attraction and does not bring any obligation inherent in a marriage. On the contrary, it is violent and damaging. Statistics show an average sex worker will have sex 12-14 times in a day; there are different kind of people: diseased, dirty, violent and perve…
(New Delhi) “Many people, especially from the law enforcement agencies, say during legal trainings that 90% of working women are lying about domestic abuse- and for some reason its always ‘90%’ . I always ask them that how did they calculate 90% but they do not have an answer. 
One of the things that I always tell people especially those who disbelieve that there is violence against women is, that when you pick up a post-mortem report of a woman who has died in her in-laws’ home, there is a long list of ante-mortem injuries recorded. It is always very chilling when you notice it. These injuries range from a week old to months old. These women were facing active physical violence for a long time which ultimately resulted in their death. Bringing people to the law to face punishment is necessary,  but the important thing is that when she is alive, she should be kept safe and free from violence.” (2/3)
(New Delhi) “I used to be a full-time practicing lawyer but I always felt it was a limited application of what I could do as a lawyer. Now I train grassroots activists, the police, the state agencies, people working in NGOs and anyone who needs to use the law.
My first workshop with rural and semi-literate women was a defining moment for me. When I saw the women making the co-relation between the laws and their lives, I knew what I wanted to do professionally. I felt as if the universe had conspired to get me this opportunity and I felt like I always wanted to do this work. 
Interacting with rural or illiterate women is a jump in your own learning. Their minds are uncluttered and free from forced logic and ideology. There is a fascination with the fact that what they find reasonable and logical is also written in our laws. One of the earliest examples was in the early 90s, soon after an Act was passed to restrict a Muslim woman’s right to maintenance. When we started discussing that, as…
(Patna) “When my daughter was a month old, we found out that she had a rare blood disorder, and that the only cure was a bone-marrow transplant.  We had to go to a specialised hospital in a different city for treatment. The doctors told us that she would be treated after she turned two years old. Until the transplant was carried out, we took her to hospital every month for blood transfusion. I saw the fear in her eyes every time we entered the hospital premises because the transfusion was very painful for her. She would cry relentlessly and wouldn’t climb the stairs to  go into the doctor’s room. We grown-up’s get scared about injections so obviously she gets scared even more. 
A child’s birth is the happiest moment in any parent’s life, and a parent does everything for their child’s well being and happiness. But to see the same child in pain is very difficult. We just thank god for giving us such a beautiful daughter. She is very playful and doesn’t show any sign of being anemic. Over…
(New Delhi) “I am a fashion designer and I am trying to establish my own brand. It is very hard to establish your own business in today’s world where everything is quite expensive. Designing is not just limited to creativity. It needs a lot of marketing and business acumen to promote your product. We are using the rich fabric of India which is completely hand woven by cottage industry workers. Through my brand, I try to promote fair trade for weavers and ensure they get regular work and a fair price. I help them incorporate modern designs in the traditional handicraft. I feel very strongly that Indian handicrafts should be kept alive and not get lost in western fashion. 
I am also trying to help transgender community through my business. They have been denied the most basic rights for a long time. I am planning to have photo shoots with models from the transgender community and help them through my business. 
A friend of mine had participated in Mrs India contest and she suggested that …
(New Delhi) “I am a practicing Supreme Court lawyer. I take up any kind of case that I am offered. I also handle pro bono human rights cases. Currently, my cases range from giving legal assistance to people from North East India trying to assimilate in Delhi to helping a student from Other Backward Classes (OBC) category to get admission in JNU, cases of sexual harassment etc. to name a few. I also work with an organisation that reunites runaway children or abused children with their families. Recently, I accompanied two girls in Bihar and in Mumbai to reunite with their respective families. We walked miles through fields in remote area of Samastipur District in Bihar to reunite the girl and found her family living in abject poverty.  I take these situations as a challenge to do more. 
I come from a conservative, middle class family in a small town in Bihar. I studied in UP and now I am practicing law independently in Delhi. In the last 17½ years of my practice, I have faced a lot of r…
(Bhopal) “I am studying law in Indore and I am here for my internship.”
(New Delhi) “From the beginning we knew that something was different about our first born son. But we realised it with certainty when he started going to play-school in Gorakhpur. He was able to respond verbally to everything but he was not able to do well while writing. We were advised to take our son to Delhi as our town was not equipped to deal with such cases. It was a good decision since people around me in Gorakhpur constantly told me that my son was “mad” and it was emotionally very difficult for me to hear it. So we moved to Delhi permanently and started to consult one doctor after another; from there my son’s real struggle began.
He had squint eyes and problems in walking as well. He was treated by eye specialists and physiotherapists. He received help from psychologists and also received classes from a special tutor who taught him to hold a pencil. After a while, things started getting better and he started going to regular school. But when he reached class 5, he had a bad te…
(New Delhi) “I have been working in the development sector for 19 years with marginalized section of the society including women, children and disabled people. I am a trained social worker and a lawyer and fighting for the rights of others is my passion. I cannot tolerate injustice being done to anyone including me. I believe if I cannot fight for my own rights, I will never be able to fight for others. This spirit keeps me moving and sometimes makes me angry in situations beyond my control. I wish I was a much calmer person but at the same time I would also never want the fire inside me to die. My parents are my strength, coming from a Muslim family and unlike rudimentary belief, they gave me a lot of freedom to choose and decide what I wanted. I am an independent woman and it’s because of them.

My two pets Bebo and Sultan are love of my life and my life would be meaningless without them. I have learnt to be always happy with small things in life and to forget all the sorrows that lif…
(New Delhi) “I am from Rajasthan. I sell jewelry here.”
(New Delhi) “I am a beautician. I have been working for the last 18 years. When I was very young, my mother arranged for some money so that I could learn the work at a local beauty salon. My skills improved and I started getting my own clients. 
At the age of 16, I fell in love and got married against everyones’ wishes. One day when my husband was not home, my in-laws threw me out of the house because they were unhappy that they did not get any dowry. I literally had to live on the street at that time as my parents had severed all ties with me. My father never spoke to me after my marriage, and for many years, he forbade everyone in the family to talk to me. When I left my in-laws’ house, I had nothing with me at all. There was no way to get in touch with my husband as during those days there were no mobile phones. I felt I had only two options: die or work. I chose to work. 
During that time, I would spend the days working, and at night, sleep at a client’s place. I started looking for…
(Patna) “I study in LKG. My sister is in UKG. Both my parents work in my school.”
(New Delhi) “I am a Political Science student. I like reading and dancing. College changes your hobbies. In college, you have lots of things to do such as working for festivals and other events. You have an active social life. 

My plans for the future are a little sketchy. If it were up to me, then I would like to become a lawyer and work for the rights of refugees. If it were up to my parents, they would want me to be an IAS/IPS officer.”
(New Delhi) “My husband and in-laws started troubling me within 3-4 days of the wedding. My husband used to hit me while my in-laws used to taunt me that the dowry my family gave was neither sufficient nor to their taste. They complained that a motorcycle was not given in the dowry. I was thrown out of the house during my pregnancy. My relatives tried talking to my in-laws to settle the matter. I also went to an NGO for trying a reconciliation with my husband. If someone tried to counsel them, they responded that they were the boy’s family, and so they would not give in. My son is now two and a half years old but they have never ever asked after the child.”

(New Delhi) “If you are a single girl from the North-East living on your own, you can expect to have problems with housing. There is discrimination at several levels. People are hesitant to show you the house because they are not interested in you as a tenant. They also ask you a hundred questions. These are personal and nosey questions such as: Who will visit you? How long will you stay out? Will you be back home by 10 pm? It is none of their business. After finding a place to live, you can only hope that you don’t have to go house hunting in the near future.” 
(New Delhi) “I sell jewelry at India Gate. I usually earn around Rupees 100 to 500 everyday. There are also some days when I am not able to sell anything. We obviously have problems selling our goods here as we have to run if police or any government officials shows up. My husband is a daily wager. Sometimes he gets work and somedays he does not.”
(New Delhi) “Right now, my personal challenge is in managing my child and work at the same time. Sometimes, I feel guilty about not spending enough time with my daughter. But, in the long run, I feel she will respect me more for my struggles. I feel I shouldn't judge myself for having a purpose in life. After having a baby, I have made major adjustments to my life but I don’t regret it. On the weekends, my husband and I try to take our daughter out to the park. Even if we don't take her out, we just play with her and spend time with her.”
(Guwahati) “I am a development worker. I have been working for the last nine years. I was born and brought up in Tezpur. My baby is one year old and has been coming to my office with me since he was four months. I work in a women friendly organization and everyone at my workplace has been very supportive. One can manage critical situations working with a wonderful lot of people. 

One stereotype I encounter frequently in my line of work is that most people view the NGO sector as being mostly for women. It is perceived that issues pertaining to violence against women are only the domain of women’s organisation. But I believe that women’s rights should be seen as a cross-cutting theme on any issue that we work on, be it, civil, political, social, cultural or economic rights.”
(Shillong) “I go to school. I am in Class 4.”
(Shillong) “I work here during school holidays. I am in Class 9. I want to do Hotel Management.”
(Guwahati) “I work in the social justice sector. I started my career in a women’s rights organisation and have continued to work there for the last 17 years. As of now I am responsible for different kinds of tasks in the organization including management-related work. My focus area is on gender-based discrimination and violence against women, especially, issues like domestic violence, witch hunting, and sexual harassment at the workplace. 
In the 1970s and early 1980s, everyone including women in our family, were volunteering for the Assam movement led by the student leaders. I was also taken for these “raasta roko” and “rail roko” protests to assert our rights. Also, I saw this culture of volunteering. In my family, my aunt, grandmother and my mother volunteered for women’s societies and gave vocational trainings on sewing and knitting or making of pickles and jams. I knew I wanted to work on women related issues beyond these vocational trainings.
When I was a student, I had to visit a…