21 Feb 2014

Lost And Found

Abhijit is a member of YRC Nabadisha
My name is Abhijit, and I am 24 years old. My name means 'The Victorious', one who forges ahead with the enthusiasm to win. My home is in Notundeyara-Garia, but most of the time I stay with my aunt in the Gobindopur area of Kolkata. I have a group here, called Nabadisha. Nabadisha is a second home to me, because I am able to interact very freely with its members, they support me a lot and pay heed to all my emotions — my anger and sadness and pain at being hurt by loved ones. We are not related by blood, but definitely share a mental connection.

I feel quite distanced from my own family, because my thought process and theirs have no similarity. From childhood, my father used to live away from us because of work, and between us we have never had an understanding.
But my mother is like a friend — she is the one I hold closest to my heart. It is her that I love most of all; she is the one who encourages me and supports me in everything. Though my parents are close to each other, when my father sometimes behaves in a way that shows violence towards her, I cannot take it at all. I try to make him understand but he doesn’t; he starts behaving badly with me too.

18 Feb 2014

What Makes Me Happy

Shama is a member of YRC Roshni
My name is Shama. In my community, girls need to be under purdah and are not encouraged to venture out of their four walls; girls are told that the more they stay at home, the better it is. My community tells girls to come out only under purdah and to walk with downcast eyes, not to look out too much at the world, otherwise they would lose the glow of their beauty. All this is said in my community.

I too used to believe in all these things. After I joined the group Roshni [Urdu: Light], I started feeling how wrong these things were — these things that society says. From then on, I started not believing in these things. I learnt that in society, girls should get the same rights as boys. Both should be treated equally. There is a very different kind of feeling in me now. I have put an end to the fear within me, and have prepared myself well.

17 Feb 2014

Equality in Relationships

Uma is the founder member of
YRC Nabadisha (2009), Change Maker,
Youth Trainer ('09)
Through the years, I have built up a distinct identity for myself through my work. My work has empowered me a lot — it has taught me to speak clearly and confidently; to not only think about myself, but also of others in challenging situations; to try and resolve conflicts; not to be silent, but to speak up. It has taught me to take responsibility. I still talk individually to the different families in my neighbourhood, so that girls in my area don’t have to deal with violence.

But when my own marriage got fixed for 5th July, 2012, along with joyous anticipation, I was also filled with apprehension for the unknown.

Ever since childhood, I have heard that marriage means sacrificing a lot according to the dictates of society. Taking permission before stepping out of home, eating only after all your in-laws have eaten, things like that. I thought of women after marriage being like fairies with their wings clipped; appearing fairy-like to the world, but to oneself — stripped of her wishes, dependent on others, and neglected. I wondered whether I would be able to live as freely as before.

11 Feb 2014

A Boy's Point of View

Deep is a member of YRC Drishtikon

I am part of the community of males spread over the whole world. From childhood I have learnt from my environment and from society that as a Man, I have to be strong and clever; I must study well, earn well, and support my family. I also have to participate in society and work towards its prosperity.

But from the time that my mind started to expand, from the time when I learnt to open its doors and windows and analyse society — and the things that it causes to happen — with a combination of knowledge, logic and emotion, from that time on I have been very concerned about this male perspective.

From the time I learnt to read the paper or watch news on TV, I have been hearing some words repeatedly — Eve-teasing, Rape etc. What bothers me is that in almost all cases, it is men who are doing it, and women are the fearful victims. Barasat, Park Street, Delhi, Kamduni, Sutiya, are all cases that have stirred me, to name only a few. These things have happened before, are happening now, irrespective of whether the location is urban or rural. Many don’t ever reach the headlines.

One such incident happens, it sparks off a nationwide protest. Committees are set up, meetings held, some block the roads or take out rallies. “We want justice, We want punishment for the guilty” echo out from the corners of the country. The police is put under pressure, and sometimes the guilty is caught. The process of justice commences, slowly. But the disease is not cured. After a few days, things repeat themselves. Again voices are heard “Put an end to rape”, “We want justice” and “Punishment for the guilty”. Actually the disease cannot be cured thus; its seeds are very deeply embedded.

In our patriarchal system, many small crimes keep happening against women, in the course of their daily lives, and most are not even counted as ‘violence’. For example, girls should not dream of riding a bike, they should ride a scooty instead. Both husband and wife may be working, but after returning from work it is always the wife who should cook and serve the man. Though girls nowadays are getting many more opportunities for education than earlier, education for women is often not so much for social productivity, as it is for getting a good match in marriage. We remain blind to these crimes, too accustomed to them, to think that these too are forms of violence, and that eve-teasing and rape are more serious forms of the same violence.

No More Stepping Back

Pinki is a founder member of YRC Alor Sandhan
this is her second post
read her earlier post

Our group, Alor Sandhan, has 25 members; boys and girls from different socio-economic backgrounds, from different castes, and differently-abled people. I have many dreams for my group. I want it to be known not only to people of my neighbourhood, but to people from all the villages in our area. We want to do something for society, something that would make everyone proud of us.

The group is a place of opportunities — here we keep having new experiences. We want everyone to have access to these opportunities and experiences. We think ourselves capable of solving any social conflict. Our group helps people to start living anew and to make progress in their lives.

Alor Sandhan started about two years back. I have been able to know myself and create myself afresh after becoming a part of the group. Earlier I was very confused and hesitant about expressing myself. I used to be scared of travelling alone and of standing up and protesting against bad situations. I remember a long time back I was travelling with my parents to my aunt’s house. A boy in the bus had caught hold of my hand and was trying something dirty with me. I wanted to give him a big slap but could not — I was afraid. If I said something to him, what if he accused me in return! What would people think of me!

That day I could neither say anything, nor could I shift from that place because the bus was terribly crowded. That day I couldn’t protest, but after joining the group, I have become much more courageous, my shyness has reduced, and my thought process has also changed. Now I do not step back from anything.

9 Feb 2014

How I Learnt To Love My Mother in law

Anjana is the founder member
of YRC Youth Voice (2011)
TF Youth Trainer since '10

Before I was married, my home was in VIP-Nagar, beside the EM Bypass. Here I worked with young people, especially girls in my neighbourhood, and started a group called Youth Voice. I would discuss issues like self exploration, reproductive health and the difficulties of child marriage with young people here. Many of them called me Pishi [Aunt], and looked to me for emotional support. I was also an active Change maker as part of the We Can Campaign.

My mother raised me and our large joint family with a lot of love. She would always say “Whatever work you’re going out to do, do it well and come back. Do not worry about housework, it will get done somehow.” Because she said this every time, I was able to focus on my work and go anywhere I liked with a free mind.

Perhaps it was those experiences that helped me through a difficult time in my life.

Basu and I got married in the December of 2011. That was the happiest moment of my life. We shifted to Kachrapara, and started our new life with a lot of hope. But within a couple of days of my marriage, a suffocating web of do’s and don’ts closed in on me. I never imagined that I would have to face these stereotypical situations.

1 Feb 2014

The Day My Life Changed

Mousumi Majumdar
member - Drishtikon YRC

We had a very happy life till the time my father was alive. He passed away on 11th December, 2001, and that was the time all our troubles started.

I was in class 9 then. My grandmother used to stay with us and look after my brother, and I used to go out to my tuitions. Sometimes I was late returning from class and if any boy ever escorted me back home, grandma did not like it. She told my mother to arrange my marriage quickly.

I was only 13 years old when I was married. I was not at all in favour of it, and had a number of fights with my mother on this issue, but the marriage did take place after all. Once, when I told my mother that I didn’t want to get married, she said "everyone had already been invited and there was nothing I can do to change it". I was confused, so I resigned myself to going along with what my family thought was best for me.

The day of my marriage didn’t feel any different. I was having a lot of fun, roaming around with my cousins and friends. Everyone was giving me presents and so I was very happy. But with the ceremony where they smear turmeric on the bride-to-be, I started feeling tearful, a nervous trembling set in my hands and body. I came to realise later that the person with whom I was married was not normal at all. He had an odd way of behaving. When he was putting the vermillion in the parting of my hair, my forehead got cut and started bleeding.