Asia Progam Manager, Doel Basu, shares a story from one of the girls in the shelter home she works at.
"The love of a family is the biggest blessing”
The above statement is true for some but not for all. I happened to meet a girl at the shelter home last week. She was a new member. Of course she didn’t talk to me initially but when she saw me with the girls and the rapport that I share with them, she came and sat near to me. She might have seen in me someone she could trust because in no time she started to talk me about her past.
I think stories are imoprtant so you can hear the pain she has been through and how life had been difficult for her. I strongly feel that in this field of work you need more than book knowledge. It’s the experiences that educate you more about modern day slavery.
Jiya fell in love with Rakesh when she was ten years old. Her family was opposed to the relation because of her age and they were protective about her. But as any teenager would do in love, Jiya wasn’t an exception. She was convinced by Rakesh that he was the ‘Mr. Perfect’ for her. She eloped with him and got married. The guy took her to his family after they got married. Jiya mentioned that her in –laws have always been nice to her. She has a brother in –law whom she respects a lot. However her family disowned her when they learned about the marriage.
After some years of marriage, they needed financial support so Jiya joined a hospital as a nurse. Rakesh was supportive and nice but with time he unmasked himself. He was an alcoholic and started to beat her up every night. She tolerated the torture until she couldn't take it anymore and she started to protest. It didn’t help her though. Her in-laws tried to help her but since Rakesh was the only bread earner, he had all the say in the family. He used to suspect that Jiya had affairs with people from work. Jiya had to do deal with this because she had no family to go back to.
Jiya was gradually getting used to it when she got the shock of her life. One evening, Rakesh came back from work with gifts for his wife. She felt that she had got back her lost love finally. Soon after, a group of young men dropped in to his place. Rakesh introduced them as his friends and asked Jiya to make some snacks for them. Jiya made snacks and tea for them and when she went to her room to serve it she was surprised to see that her husband was not there. One of those men closed the door behind him and started to make advances towards her. Out of humiliation she asked them to behave decently to which one of the men laughed and then told her that her husband had sold her to those men for the night.
The men tried to molest her. She cried for help and finally managed to escape from the room and got hold of her brother- in law. Her clothes were torn and she was bruised which suggested what she had been through. When Rakesh returned home his family threatened him that if he did it again they would disown him. But it didn’t affect Rakesh. Some weeks later he asked Jiya to get out of his life because he was in love with another woman. That news broke Jiya’s confidence completely but she tried to fight for her marriage because it was all she had. Rakesh couldn’t bear this change in Jiya so one day he set her on fire. Her in-laws were present there so they helped her to get into the hospital. She suffered burns on 30% of her body but luckily didn't die. After she was discharged from the hospital she was on her way to one of her aunt’s, when she was noticed by some policemen who stopped her and asked her what happened. After she told them her story they sent her to the shelter home for her safety.
When she was done with her life story, she looked at me with a smile. I couldn’t speak for a minute and tried to hide my tears. I was amazed to see that even after so much of sufferings she has managed to survive and she has the urge to restart her life. I held her arms and advised her that she everything in life has an age, so one should never deny the law of nature.
This is yet another story which has made me work harder with these women who deserved happiness, respect, love and compassion to the least.