31 May 2013

Reclaiming Rights!

Farheen Khatoon is a member of YRC
Roshni. Gender Volunteer (2011)

I am Farheen, and I believe that in society, girls have the same rights as boys.

I used to face violence frequently in my own life. My brother was sent to an English-medium school because he was a boy, he would get a good job in the future; I was sent to one that was Urdu-medium because I would get married anyway and didn’t need such high qualifications. Like this, in evey big and small things, I felt wronged and I didn’t like it.

There is a youth group called Roshni in my locality, Rajabazar, and I got involved there. Through this, I got the opportunity to be a participant at a Thoughtshop Foundation Gender Training. Here, in a card game, I saw the picture of a boy going to school, and the girl doing housework; a woman cooking as well as managing a baby. Seeing these I felt that these things happened at my home too, with me and my mother! At that time I understood that it was not right! When discussions continued to happen in the group around other picture cards, I gradually came to understand what violence was. What happened with me at home, the things that I didn’t like, the things that hurt me – that was violence.

Many changes started happening in me after undergoing the gender workshop. My self-confidence increased and I was able to talk without fear to anybody. This saved me from suffering more violence in my life.

After my class 10, my mother didn’t want to educate me further. She used to say, “What you had to learn, you have learnt already. Now concentrate on housework and family-life. These only will help you in future.” On the other hand, they let my bother continue with his education and this I found very strange. But I had also made up my mind to study further. The gender training brought this way of thinking in me, and the guts. Here I was given the chance to know myself and recognize my unique gifts. I started talking to my mother and persuaded her time and again that I wanted to do a job. I told her that a girl doesn’t only mean someone who stays-at-home. She also has the right to pursue education and stand on her own feet. My mother thought a lot and finally agreed. I was allowed to continue with my studies and now I have appeared for my Higher Secondary exam also.

In the gender training, they taught us a number of interesting games to play in our community. I played these with my parents. In one of these, the husband and the wife had to separately speak of what the other liked. My mother knew quite a bit about my father’s preferences, but my father was able to say only two-three things that my mother liked. Right then I told my father, “What papa! It is 20-22 years since your marriage and you still don’t know Ammi properly?” At this, my father stared at me for at least 2 minutes. Then he said, “What is this dangerous thing you brought?” Then he said, “This is good. from now on I will pay attention to every little thing about your Ammi.” Now he makes it a point to ask my mother, me or my sister and gets things that my mother will like.

Again at one point I thought that in our Rajabazar itself, there were many girls who were victims of violence, but didn’t even know what violence was. Whatever I had learnt in my gender training, I started sharing with such girls. I started telling them about the rights of a girl.

I had a friend Saeeda [name changed] who used to come to dance class secretly. One day her mother got to know about this, and she was prohibited from going out. After a week of not seeing her in class, I went to her home and then she told me all about her problem. Her mother was of the opinion that a girl should not dance, because then the neighbours would think of her as a bad girl. I tried to reason with her; that it was Saeeda’s dream to learn dancing, and if she brought obstacles in the way of dance, Saeeda wouldn’t be able to concentrate on studies either. I asked aunty, “Do you want to see your daughter happy, or do you want to make society happy?” Saeeda’s mother said, “I want to see my daughter happy.” Then I asked her to come to dance class one day and see for herself how it was. She went, and liked the environment and to see her daughter dance. Saeeda was once more allowed to come to dance class.

If I hadn’t had access to the gender workshops, I would have known neither about violence nor about my rights. Earlier I too used to think somewhat along the lines that a girl meant being timid, managing housework and, keeping her own dreams suppressed, listening to elders – even if what they said was not right.

But now things are not the same. Today I exercise all the rights a girl should have. I am very lucky that I got the chance to get associated with the group and TF. Here I got to live my whole self freely. I will work to preserve this freedom. Here I have discovered a differently-thinking Farheen within myself. Now I am walking the road where I will never quietly tolerate violence and try with all my might to bring people suffering violence out of those situations.

This is my Goal now.

Haq Wasooli!

Main Farheen. Main yeh believe karti hun ki samaj mein ek ladka ka jo rights hotey hain, ek ladki ka bhi utna hi rights hota hai.

Mere khudke zindagi mein pehle akhsar violence hota tha. Mere bhai ko English medium me padhaya gaya kyunki woh ladka hai jo aage jakar accha job karega; mujhe Urdu medium me padhaya gaya kyunki main ladki hun, meri toh shaadi ho jayegi, mujhe zyada high qualification ki zarurat nahi hai. is tarha har chhoti-badi baat mein mere saath galat hota tha aur yeh mujhe accha nahi lagta tha.

Raja Bazaar mein Roshni naam ka ek group hai, ussko maine join kiya. iss group ke zariye mujhe Thoughtshop Foundation mein Gender training ka ek member banne ka mauka mila. Is training ka ek card game mein maine dekha ke ek ladka school ja raha hai, aur ladki ghar ka kaam kar rahi hai. Aur ek card mein dekha ke ek aurat hai jo ghar mein khana paka rahi hai aur baccha ko bhi samhal rahi hai. Yeh cards dekhke mujhe aisa laga ki yeh to mere ghar pe bhi hota hai, yeh main aur mere mummi face karte hain. Tab mujha aisa laga ki jo mere aur mere mummi ke saath hota hai, woh thik nahi, woh galat hai. Aur bhi bohut saare cards lekar jab group mein batein hoti rahi, tab main shamajh payi ke violence kya hai. Mujhe laga ke mere saath ghar pe jo hota tha, jisse mujhe accha nahi lagta tha, dukh hota tha - wahi violence hai.

Gender workshop ke zariye mere andar bahut saare changes hona shuru hua, jaise mera self-confidence badhta gaya aur main bina darey kisi se bhi baat kar pati thi. Yeh mujhe mere life mein aur bhi violence se bachaya. Aj agar mere life mein Gender Training na hota, toh main aaj HS ke student na rehti.

Mere class 10 ke baad Ammi mujhe aur padhana nahi chahti thi. Woh bolti thi ki, “Tumko jitna padhna tha, padh chuki. Abhi ghar ka kaam aur sansar mein dhyan do. Yehi tumhare kaam ayegi.” Doosri taraf mere bhai ko padhne diya jaa raha tha. Yeh mujhe ajeeb laga, par maine bhi soch liya tha ke main aage padh kar rahungi. Mere yeh soch aur self confidence mujhe Gender Training se mila hai, kyunki isme rehkar maine apne-aap ko jana aur apne khubiyaa pehchan payi. Maine apne ammi se baat karna shuru kiya aur bar bar ammi ko manate rahi ke main bhi job karna chahti hun. Ke ladki ka matlab yeh nahi ke sirf ghar mein rehna. Uska bhi haq hai bahar jakar padhna aur apne pairon pe khada hona. Ammi bahut sochi aur tab ammi meri raazi hui. Mujhe aage padhne diya gaya aur aaj maine H.S ka exam bhi de diya hai.

Gender training me kafi interesting kuchh games community me karane diya gaya. Yeh game maine apni papa aur ammi ke saath karaya. Isme pati aur patni dono ko ek doosre ke pasand ko batana tha. Ammi ko papa ke pasand ke baare me kaafi pata tha, lakin papa ammi ke pasand ki cheez 2 yaa 3 hi ko sahi se bata payen. Tab hi maine papa ko boli, “Kya papa, apki shaadi ko 20-22 saal hone ja raha hai aur abhi tak aap ammi ko hi sahi se pehchaan nahi paye?” Yeh sunkar papa kam se kam 2 minute tak mera face dekhe aur fir bole, “Tum kya danger cheez lekar aayi ho?" Fir papa bole, “Yeh accha hai. Hum aaj se tumhari ammi ke har cheez me dhyaan rakhenge.” Ab papa ammi se ya hum ya humari behen se pooch kar ammi ke pasand ka saaman laate hain.

Uske baad mujhe laga ke mere Raja Bazaar mein hi bahut aisi ladkiya hai jo violence ka shikar hai aur unko pata hi nahi yeh violence kya hai. Maine Gender Training mein violence ke baare me jo sikha aur jana, woh un logon tak pohuchane lagi. Ek ladki ka kya rights hote hain, woh unko batane lagi.

Meri ek dost thi Saeeda [name changed] jo chhup kar dance class jati thi. Ek din uski ammi ko pata chala to Saeeda ko bahar jana mana ho gaya. Ek hafta Saeeda ko dance class mein na pakar main uske ghar gayi aur tab usne saara problem batayi. Uski mummi ka kahna tha ki ek ladki ko dance karna nahi chahiye – isse aas-pass ke log use kharab ladki samjhenge. Tab maine aunty se baat kiya aur unko yeh baat ka ehsaas dilane ki koshis ki ke dance sikhna Saeeda ka sapna hai. Agar woh uske sapne mein rukhawat bane to Saeeda sahi se padh bhi nahi payegi. Maine unse poochi, “Aap apni bacchi ki khushi chahte hain ya samaj ki?”, to uski ammi boli, “Apne bacchi ki khushi chahti hun.” Tab maine unko ek din dance class chal kar khud dekhne ke liye boli. Woh gayi, aur wahan ka enviroment aur apni beti ka dance dekhkar unko accha laga. Saeeda ko fir dance class aane diya gya.

Yeh sab sirf mere Gender Training se hua. Agar main is training me nahi aati to violence ke baare me nahi jaanti, na apne rights ke baare me, kyunki is training se pehle main bilkul opposite thi. mujhe violence ke baare me kuch bhi pata nahi tha aur main bhi kuch is tarha sochti thi ke ladki matlab sabse darke rehna, ghar ka kaam sambhalna, aur apne mann ki baat ko daba kar bade kuch bhi bole, usko sunna - woh galat kyun na ho.

Par ab aisa nahi hai. Ek ladki ka jo rights hona chahiye, aaj woh saare rights mere pass hai. Main bahut lucky hun ki main TF se jud payi. Yahan maine apne aap mein ek alag soch rakhnewali Farheen ko paya hai. Aaj jahan bhi violence dekhti hun, wahan hi uske khilaf awaaz utha sakti hun. Aaj mujhe har cheez ka freedom hai aur is azaadi ko main aage tak barkarar rakhungi. Ab main us rah ke taraf nikli hun jahan main kabhi violence chupchap bardaasht nahi karungi aur jin logo ke saath violence hoga, unlogon ko wahan se niklne ka poori koshis karungi.

Ab yehi mera maqsad hai.


  1. Farheens article is very inspiring, I wish more people could follow her example. Well done Farheen!

  2. thank you Farheen, your story reminds me that line, "small actions make big changes". it inspire me and I am sure many people would inspires by your writing.

  3. Farheen I was the first to read your unedited write-up and subsequently it was put on the blog. I don't know why but I had tears in my eyes; I somehow felt that such stories can bring so much positivity and hopes for girls who still face so much challenges in their life

  4. Great Farheen, many girls faces violence never askig their rights. Also me so many times I faced but at your age I didn't understand it. U do work with your family and friends also in your community.Krishna

    1. Anonymous11/17/2013

      Farheen, tum naye zamane ki awaaz ho, himmat ho, sapna ho, aastha ho. Tumhare yeh kaam mein tarakki hote rahe! Tumhare zariye aur bhi bahut ladkiyan 'azaad' hoti rahen. Shabaash, Farheen!
      - Mira Kakkar


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