29 Jul 2016

No Marriage Now!

Rajiya Khatun is a member of YRC KYP
My name is Rajiya Khatun. I am 16, and live in a village called Kuldia. There are 6 members in my family. My father is a flower-farmer.

I had a fun filled childhood. I used to play a lot and even swim in the pond when I was a child. I don’t know when people around thought I had grown up.

Last year I got a shock when our neighbour visited my home unannounced, with a marriage proposal for me! This neighbour is a lawyer and he said he knew a boy who would be a good match for me. He initiated this process with both families without even asking us!

The local youth group YRC KYP heard about this proposal and they immediately came to talk to my family. They spoke to me and my parents telling us that I was too young and this proposal was unacceptable. I myself was and still am not ready for marriage. I want to study, have fun, be part of the group, earn some respect. Self-respect is very important for me.

Saved, the day before I was to be Sold!

Purnima is a member of
YRC Nabadisha
My name is Purnima, and I am 17 years old. I live with my family; my parents, elder sister and my younger brother. In my neighbourhood there are few good people & few bad, but everyone loves me. We used to live in the village and faced some difficulties because my father never worked. This caused stress between my parents.

But then we moved to the city and my mother started working in people’s homes. She paid for our school expenses. My mother always encouraged us telling us to “study as much as you want”. I used to do all housework & looked after my brother when my mother used to go out for work. As I grew up, I lost interest in studies.

I met a boy from another neighbourhood and we used to meet and talk on the phone. We met for a year and I fell in love with him. Then one day he said we should elope. We got married him in a temple near Canning without informing my parents. A friend of mine who was having a bad time at home also ran away from home and joined me.

But unfortunately the boy was not as good as he seemed. After our marriage, he bought us train tickets and sent me to Delhi in a train alone with my friend. From Delhi station, someone took us in an auto & then a cycle rickshaw to a house. That evening I overheard some phone conversations and came to know that the boy had planned to actually sell me from Delhi.

I'm Too Young to Marry!

Raj Nandini Jha is an active member and
Peer Leader of YRC Youth Voice
My name is Rajnandini Jha. I am 13 years old. I have my parents, younger sister, brother and me in my family. My mother works at people’s homes, and my father is a driver.

I live in VIP Nagar, which is not a good place to live in. If I speak with even a younger boy people start spreading rumours. If women go out a lot, people take it badly.

I remember my grandma (father’s mother) always ill-treated my mother because she was a Bihari and not a Bengali. She would give her stale food and complain to my father about her. My father would believe grandma and beat up my mother. I used to feel so bad for her. I would save some of my share of the food to give to my mother.

17 Feb 2016

WOW Behind the Scenes : Pinki

These are the stories of WOW Mobilisers from Youth Resource Cells. Mobilisers are youth leaders who are specially trained to help community women join the Women on Wheels programme. The stories are meant to capture both the challenges and strategies involved in working behind the scenes. Some names have been changed to protect the identities of people involved.

Pinki, founder member:YRC Alor Sandhan
WOW Mobiliser [mobilised 6 of the 9 women
in the 1st WOW batch]
Read her earlier post
I've known Sandhya since i was very little. She was rarely home because she worked in Delhi all those years. I later found that she was engaged as a domestic care-giver since she was 11 years old. She's 22 now.

When I approached Sandhya with this news about women chauffeurs, she was really excited to join the training programme at first. But then she got very upset and worried when I told her that passing Class VIII was a minimum requirement. I found out more about this and assured her that if she was confident, then that rule could be relaxed for her as a special case.

Her family however was completely against her training, and created a lot of pressure for her to stop. Her father, an alcoholic, was keen to send her back to her earlier workplace in Delhi, because for him that was assured steady money for the family. Even though my team and I repeatedly tried to counsel and explain to him, Sandhya's father frequently beat her up. He would say “She has no basic education, does not ever know the roads properly... how will she drive? Driving is not a good profession for her”. One day, my parents and I had to rush to Sandhya's place

21 Jan 2016

My Leadership Journey - Sabita

Sabita is a Core Team Member
of YRC Swapno
Youth Fellow 2012-13
I live in the Namkhana island of the Sundarbans. Here most of the people are farmers or fishermen, and this society does not value women though they work as hard as the men.

Through my childhood my mother was overworked and never had time for me. I felt ignored. My father would beat her very badly and make her cry. At one time my mother was upset and she left me. I felt very angry and thought that perhaps my mother did not love me.

I withdrew from everything and everyone. My elder brother was also never willing to let me or my sister go out anywhere.

At this time, my 15-year-old elder sister was married off. But she was unhappy. Her husband and in-laws were violent with her and she silently bore it. This made me cry and think that no one stays happy after getting married. So I decided to study a lot, grow up to be a respected person, and never to get married. When I was about to appear for my Madhyamik, my parents decided to get me married. I tried to hide but the boy’s family approved the match based on a photograph. My sister’s marriage had already broken up and using her example I convinced my parents that I did not want to marry now.

Sometime after this, I heard about a youth group called Swapno. I learned that the group members were trained by Thoughtshop Foundation (TF) in Kolkata. I informed my family that I wanted to go to Kolkata. At that time no one objected and so I went and really enjoyed myself.

I joined Swapno and became an active member. One day I found the group sharing stories about their mothers. I gathered the courage to share my innermost feelings - my resentment and conflicts with my mother. I was also able to recall good memories with her. Within the group I found a space to share my sorrows and joys and look at things from a new perspective.