Udaipur : Urban women raising voice for rights or contributing for social causes may sound clichéd. But rural women making a difference to the society and fighting against the age old stringent patriarchal norms is less heard of and hence holds a lot of prominence.
This was something which was enlightened at the ‘Mann ki Baat’, held on Tuesday here where teenage girls from Gogunda block shared their experiences and contributions they have been making to bring a difference in the community mindset. These girls are associated with the Hilor project run by an NGO Jatan Sansthan under an UNFPA project in Gogunda-Saira area of Udaipur district. These girls are not only benefitted of various skill oriented courses but also being trained on sensitive issues like personal and community hygiene, sanitation, breaking free from social taboos and superstitions.
” My husband was an alcoholic who used to physically abuse me everyday. I left my in-laws home and came back to my parents. I learnt electrical repairing work under the Hilor project. Now I make LED bulbs at home and earn a respectable income so that my parents do not find me a burden, they are on my side today and do not ask me to return to my husband” 19-year old Ganeshi Meghwal from Oado ka Guda village received a large applause from the audience for her courage. 17 year old Lakshmi had even more heart rendering story to tell. ” In my village Paner, any sick child wasnt taken to hospital. The parents would straight away take the child to the local ‘Bhopas’ who would brand the child. The poor kids would get infected and grow serious but their parents never realized their folly due to orthodoxy.
After associating with Hilor project I formed a group with my friends and we began mass protest and awareness program in the village. Initially people opposed us and the bhopas even cursed us, but we continued our mission and now no child in our village is branded ” the proud girl said. ” When the only handpump in our village went out of order, villagers had to walk a kilometer to a step well to fetch drinking water. But the water was not good and kids fell ill after consuming it. I discussed the matter with my peer group and we a handful of girls went to the Sarpanch and asked him to solve the problem. Within 3 days, the handpump was repaired and villagers were relieved. The sarpanch told us that he wasn’t aware of the issue as none of the villagers had ever mentioned it to him ” 15 year old Kesar from Morwal village said. Bhavna Gameti, a 17 year old from Gogunda said ” When I was just 15 ,my parents married me off with a 32 year old man under the ‘Aata Saanta’ custom where siblings are exchanged within two families in nuptial relations. My husband ill treated me and he threatened that if I complained this to my parents, my brother’s married life too would be affected. I suffered for two years but after getting associated with Hilor project, I decided to raise my voice and I walked out from the painful relation. Luckily my brother understood my pain and he supported me while leading a happy life with his wife who is my husband’s sister.” Program managers Om and Payal gave a brief about the project and the life skills being taught to the participants who have greatly benefitted under the project.