My right, My fight!
Poornima lives in a slum community in Bosepukur. She has been working as a domestic worker for 6 years. Her employers of 6 years had not increased her salary until this year when they offered her an increment of a hundred rupees. However, she demanded that her salary be increased by six hundred rupees (hundreds rupees for each year an increment was not been made). Poornima told her employers that if her demand was not met she would discontinue her work there after the Pujas. The fact that she voiced her opinion this year after six years of remaining silent shows awareness as well as a shift in her attitude to her rights.
Poornima has also changed the way she responds to oppression in the personal sphere. Initially, she was very quiet and timid at the Samadhan Dal meetings. Perhaps her dominating, alcoholic husband reinforced this disposition. Towards the beginning of her interaction with Parichiti, Poornima’s drunk husband was seen approaching her publicly and demanding that his tea be served immediately. He threatened to drag her by her hair if she refused. The threat was followed by a string of insults and which made her leave with him promptly.
However, she began to open up to the group in the course of the meetings (where her attendance was regular) as the social workers had begun to gain her trust. Poornima’s transformation was most visible to us when she ignored her drunken husband who demanded that she serve him food. She was washing clothes at the time. When he proceeded to insult her she told him firmly that she would join him after finishing her work. She also told him that there was food for him at home and he could most certainly help himself to it.
Padma is 70 years old. She has lived in Shahid Smriti for nearly 40 years. Her husband was allotted a plot of land and they built their home –a three room shack with plastic, mats and a tiled roof. Padma used to work as a domestic worker but has not been working regularly for 20 years because of ill health. Her husband lives with her but has hardly ever contributed financially to running the household. They rent out one of their rooms and this meagre rent is their only income. She has been coming to the Community Centre for 20 months now. “I love chatting with my friends here and playing games. This helps me relax and forget my troubles for a while,” says Padma. The snack offered at the Centre is also a big help. The doctors’ visits at the Centre and medicines for hypertension have given her some relief.
Ratan is the animator of Shahid Smriti group- A. Ratan’s wife Moumita(25) is a graduate woman and is presently is a homemaker. Ratan’s daughter Prakriti is only 1 year old. Ratan is a private tutor and is employed in a local cable operator office as technical support.
“I enjoy caring my daughter. I bathe her, give oil massage while she laughs and plays with me” Ratan said. “I am lucky to have a daughter and we decided not to take any more children as we have to raise her properly” Ratan commented, ‘I am saving money for her education and will start a LIC soon so that we can meet the higher educational expenses”. He is taking to his daughter for immunization and is carefully monitoring about the nutrition of the child.
Ratan neighbour ridiculed him and said that he is doing almost all duty as a mother of a child. “My elder brother mocked me and said that I am henpecked husband” Ratan smiled. “I never argue with them just give them a big smile and carry out my own responsibilities”. Ratan’s wife said that she is happy to have a husband like him. “The kind of support he gives to me should be an example to others” Moumita said.
Till date Ratan and his group member supported to address three domestic violence cases in Shahid Smriti and Adjacent area. His place is a contact point for the women who are victim of Domestic and other kind of violence.