Meenakhi fought for her marriage with the help of Oxfam India’s women support centre

Meenakhi fought for her marriage with the help of Oxfam India’s women support centre

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Women support centre of @OxfamIndia gives legal advice and support to women in need. Know more.

“Nineteen years is a long time to be married to someone. And you would think you know your spouse inside out. But, that is not true as I have discovered the hard way,” says Meenakhi Naik with stoic resignation. 

There is no bitterness in her now, after her husband of 19 years, decided to stay with another woman. 

Raghumani Naik is a security guard at the local park. He is paid no salary and his income came only from the tips that parents of kids who play in the park gave. Ironically enough, Meenakhi and Raghumani, both of different castes, fell in love and married against the wishes of their families.

“It was my job as Anganwadi worker that helped us light the chulha everyday. In spite of that, I really loved him,” says Meenakhi. 

She was devastated the day she learned that her husband was in an extra-marital affair. “He said I needed to adjust and that she was also working so she can give him money too. She was a relative, well-known to me, but I never expected that something like this would happen,” said Meenakhi.

Meenakhi came straight to the Women Support Centre, Kalahandi, run by a partner of Oxfam India, as she was already aware of its existence through her friends who attended its inauguration. 

She filed an application for a joint meeting saying she wants him back and that he should be convinced. “But later on, I realised that all I wanted was for my kids, a boy and a girl, to be given a secure future. I was no longer interested in the relationship,” she said.

The 40-year-old Anganwadi worker then sought the intervention of the Support Centre in getting her a residence order under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (PWDV) Act. 

The order was important as she feared that Raghumnai might ask her to leave along with children. She now lives in the house that belongs to her husband. Raghumani has been made to contribute to the running of the family by making him bring wheat, rice and sugar on his ration card. “I know he does not make much money, so it is ok. He loves the kids, brings them food and gifts. I am ok with that too,” Meenakhi said.

There was a time when Raghumani was adamant and hostile. “’It’s my wish how many women I want to keep. You have no right to speak”, he told me. 

Once I got the residence order, I showed it to him and told him to get out. I said “Do what you please, but this is my house and I will live here with my kids.” He slowly yielded. I think he is afraid of me now that he knows the Support Centre is behind me,” Meenakhi says with a faint smile. 

Meenakhi has the support of her in-laws who disapprove of their wayward son too. 

 

Written by: Oxfam India staff

Photo credit: Oxfam India

 


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