Mehjabi and her husband Bilal
Mehjabi Khatun sought our partner Mahila Dastak’s help to counsel her abusive husband. Read more http://bit.ly/1QfkDlv
Mehjabi Khatun, 20, was married to Bilal Mohammad when she was just 16 years old. Bilal carried a proposal to Mehjabi’s house in Teusa village in Bihar’s Kishanganj district at the behest of his uncle, even though neither family really approved of the match. Mehjabi is Bilal’s cousin and comes from a poor family. Her mother, a widow, was unable to provide for her family on her own, so Mehjabi agreed to marry Bilal. A dowry of Rs 30,000 along with other items was given at the time of the wedding.
All was well for Mehjabi at her in-laws’ house for three months. Then, things changed. Bilal would drink, gamble and, influenced by his mother’s complaints, become physically violent with his wife. Bilal’s parents also took Rs 10,000 from him and asked them to move out of the house. All day, Mehjabi faced abuse from her mother-in-law, and at night, Bilal would return drunk and beat her up. He would also not give her any money for food. Mehjabi was reduced to wearing torn clothes and going to her neighbours’ house to ask for food. Her mother-in-law called her a beggar. Mehjabi lived in this pitiable situation for almost four years, during which she also gave birth to her daughter.
Six months ago, Mehjabi heard of a Mahila Dastak in her village. She mustered up the courage to lodge a complaint about her situation with them. When the women of the Dastak called for a meeting with her husband and his family, they became angry and claimed that being sent to jail did not bother them. After many rounds of persistent discussions, they finally started to relent. Bilal has now stopped drinking and gambling. He also gives Mehjabi a small amount of money but keeps a close check on how she spends it. Mehjabi’s mother-in-law has stopped interfering in the couple’s lives.
Mehjabi and Bilal are still struggling to come to a better understanding of each other. Bilal continues to give his parents money and gifts without telling her, which upsets Mehjabi. However, she now has food at home and clothes to wear, gifted by Bilal. A tense calm prevails at home.
“I am married to him and will stay with him throughout my life. Things have improved a lot now and I am a bit happier than before”, said Mehjabi softly.
Written by: Oxfam India Staff