Check out 16 Return-To-Work Programs In India For Ambitious Women Like You!
Grandfather's silence was enough. There was no option other than to accept it. Being the eldest of five of her sisters, she knew this would happen soon. But this soon, she had no idea. She was only 14. It felt as if society was waiting for her to hit puberty and marry her off. Is a child mentally and emotionally mature at the age of 14 years?
The world in front of her eyes came crumbling down with the news of her wedding being fixed. She ran to her grandpa with millions of questions in her eyes and shouted at him. But, grandpa did not utter a word.
His silence was enough to tell that her fate had been decided. There was no option other than to accept it. Being the eldest of five of her sisters, she knew this would happen soon. But this soon, she had no idea. She was only 14.
It felt as if society was waiting for her to hit puberty and marry her off. Is a child mentally and emotionally mature at the age of 14 years?
Are they capable enough to understand ‘marriage’?
Sakina* [name has been changed] was not. How would she? It is not taught in schools. Not even in the families.
“…but what about my schooling?”, asks Sakina. “You can continue if your in-laws and your husband allow you”, she is told.
It’s her life. The decision should be hers. Sadly, the scenarios are quite different in different parts of India, and the world.
Living in cities comes with its set of privileges, where most of us may have the freedom to take decisions for ourselves. While it can’t be generalized, some parts of rural India show the other side of the coin.
Women in villages often do not have the right to decide for themselves and are, sometimes, considered a burden by the family. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act came in 2006, yet child marriages are rampant today.
Sakina had dreams and aspirations. She wanted to study and become a social worker, but her life was crushed by the pressure of marriage. The concept of choice and freedom was not introduced to her.
Decorative fringe used during Sakina’s wedding ceremony
Was getting married the end or beginning of Sakina’s suffering? It was not even two months into the marriage that she saw the barbaric side of her husband.
His demands of dowry were never-ending. When she was not able to meet the demands, she was forced to leave the house. The physical abuse and the ominous threats of what could happen to her became an everyday routine.
“He kept telling me that I can’t take care of you any more. I didn’t understand what was happening to me.”
“Do you think his behaviour was justified?” I asked.
“No, it wasn’t justified, but maybe I did something wrong, that’s why he used to beat me.” she replied.
The doubt in her reply is loud enough to tell that even after years, she is not sure that it was never her fault. There is no justification for violence. The husband has no right to raise a hand, irrespective of his supposed reasons.
“Sometimes, I used to get angry too, but never dared to do anything. There was immense fear that he might kill me in sleep. If I’d have stayed any longer in that house, I’m sure I wouldn’t be alive today.”
Sakina left her husband’s house after going through the torture for three months. She couldn’t handle it and decided to return to her parent’s home. But here too, life’s circumstances failed her. Her parents denied accepting her back.
“Gharwaale bolte hain ab tera sasural hi tera ghar hai. Sasural wale kehte hai ki hum tujhe nahi rakhenge, tu apne ghar ja. Main kahan jaun, kis ko puchun ki mera ghar kahan hai”
I was numb and had nothing appropriate to say. Our society says that “Shadi ke baad ladki ka ghar uska sasural hi hota hai”. After marriage, a girl’s home is with her in-laws.
But what if it has failed to create a safe space for her. What if it’s not home. Society doesn’t tell us where to go when there’s no humanity left there. Sakina’s wounds were still fresh. The trauma is still evidently there. She had no time to heal or figure out life.
Sakina needed to find a place to live. A few months ago, she was simply going to school, playing with friends, and not worrying about the next day. In just six months, her life had flipped.
Here she was, trying to rise from the ashes. She gathered all her courage and filed a court case against her husband.
Her family refused to pay a single rupee for her further education. So, she worked in sugarcane fields on a meagre pay of INR 50-100 per day to get back to her studies, which she was forced to give up.
After years of hard work, her courage to start a new life paid off. Sakina has now completed graduation and is already enrolled in the MSW program at MANALOK’s social work college. “Ab meri padhai hi mera sab kuch hai”, she says.
Education has changed her life. She feels empowered and encourages young girls to not give up on education.
It has helped her in making decisions for herself, understanding her own worth, and gaining control of the surrounding circumstances. Because of this, combined with her perseverance, she has also secured a job in Manavlok.
Sakina is 25 now, independent and financially stable. She now understands what marriage means. With no help from her parents, sisters, brothers, or relatives, she became her own support system.
It is said that time heals everything. But even an entire lifetime is not enough for her to heal from the trauma she has experienced as a teenager. Just like a picture on the wall, a lot has been fixed, but she hasn’t healed yet.
“Earlier, I never understood what was happening. Girls in our families are treated like puppets. No one ever asks our choices or takes permission. We have to obey the decisions they take for our lives as if we have no right to it.”
“They just see us as a birth-giving machine. In those three months of marriage, I’ve seen everything. Despite the physical abuse and torture, I didn’t give up. Instead, I took baby steps and kept moving. Lekin zindgi abhi bhi dhoop chaanv jaisi hi hai.” Expressed Sakina.
“On one hand, I feel stable and don’t feel the need to take support from anyone. My thought process has changed. I now understand what decisions to take, and I’m in a better position than ever before. But on the other side, people are not letting me live.”
“They keep reminding me that I need a man. There is constant pressure to re-marry, and I’m not in the state to give it a thought. I’m still scared, and my experience keeps haunting me.”
“How do you see yourself now?” I asked.
“I’m just happy to be alive; thankful for not losing hope even when my parents weren’t by my side. After experiencing domestic abuse, all a girl needs is some support from her family.”
“I was not lucky enough to have that, and I’m still fighting the court case all alone. It’s been 10 years since it’s going on. Now, whenever I go to the court, I support young girls who are fighting similar battles. Their liberation empowers me, and I’ll continue to do so as long as I can.”
As a young girl, I wanted to be a social worker. Now I have become one with the support of Manavlok. My challenges and my trauma have made me a stronger person. “Ab bas meri ek hi khwahish hai, main apna khud ka ek ghar chahti hun”, says Sakina.
Sakina*: Name has been changed for privacy purposes
Image source: Picture from Flickr – used for representative purpose only
Published here first.
About the author: Sweksha Gupta is an India Fellow (2021) working with Manavlok in Ambajogai, Maharashtra supporting the local community with watershed initiatives in villages through research on participatory approaches, documentation, advocacy, and capacity building.
India Fellow is an 18-month social leadership program for young Indians who want to work at grassroots and find their leadership potential to make a difference. read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!
Half a decade ago marriage was a bargain between two famlies. Most of the women were married off to a man who was either well off or who could fend for his wife and family. Today the parameters of marriage have changed. Women no longer marry for the sake of economic security. Their expectations from marriage have changed in the course of years because of their changed status.
As women grew independent, their patterns of choosing partners have changed dramatically. Now women choose men who they feel can satiate their emotional as well as physical needs. Intimacy is no longer the physicality that happened between two people under the supervision of elders of the family for the sole purpose of procreation. Intimacy in today’s marriages involve understanding and fulfilling each other’s emotional as well as sexual needs.
So before you decide to hook up see if you know these five things about intimacy.
The recent Bold Care ad breaks some long standing taboos in Indian society about women's sexual pleasure and erectile dysfunction in men.
The co-owner of the new sexual health brand – Bold Care, Ranveer Singh, recently shared that he wants to focus at creating awareness amongst people about men’s sexual health and aims to provide a tangible solution to millions of people across the country. The new Bold Care ad which was dropped last week has taken the internet by storm. Netizens are ogling at the ad and cannot stop talking about it and how?
The Bold Care ad has created a buzz for multiple reasons. One, because of the unexpected collaboration between the A-list Bollywood actor and co-owner of the brand – Ranveer Singh and (wait for it… drumrolls please) the adult film star Johnny Sins.
People were not ready to see Johnny Sins in an Indian commercial ad and had their jaws dropped to the floor when they saw him dressed in a blue kurta and a golden coat and tie acting in a saas-bahu rip off. The internauts have claimed this unusual duo as the biggest crossover ever – bigger than Deadpool and Wolverine coming together! Second, the ad aims to normalise the stigma related to men’s sexual wellbeing and the ease with which it can be addressed.
Please enter your email address