Vanangana

Project Theme

Ending Violence Against Women

Target Group

Women

Project Period

01 Jul 2014 - 30 Jun 2015

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Introduction

Chitrakoot is one of the most backward districts of the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. Manikpur block of the district lies in the dense forest area of the Vindhyachal Plateau. A harsh geographical landscape, combined with a lack of access to natural resources, and a deeply entrenched feudal structure have led to the social and economic marginalization of women and Dalit in particular. Women are principal providers of care and support to families. Yet every social indicator shows a fundamental social bias and inequality. Newspapers and periodicals of all hues in India often carry reports about violence against women (VAW). These include among others incidents of young brides being burnt for bringing ‘insufficient’ dowry, women dying in abnormal circumstances, rape on hapless women and molestation of young girls. In some cases, there are public protests by women activists and such protests receive media coverage. Domestic violence suffered by women on a regular basis in the form of psychological or physical abuse goes unreported. Very rarely do women themselves file police cases against the ill treatment meted out to them. A few women who escape death end up in shelter homes, but the majority continues to live in marital union and endure abusive behaviour.

Impact by partner
  • 150 women survivors approached to the two support centre for the counselling, legal and medical help. 79 cases were registered Out of this 3 DIR were registered
  • 10 Meeting held with Department of Women and Child and Police Department at district level for better coordination and getting help in solving and highlighting of the issue
  • 30 Community meeting on the issues of gender.10 vigilance group have emerged

Case Study

The strides that Beliya has made in her struggle to ensure a worthwhile life for herself and her 18 year daughter Phooli are unbelievable given that she was once too timid to even verbally protest against her abusive husband. But with some support from Vanangana, mother and daughter are confident that justice shall not elude them.Beliya’s trials started sixteen years ago- the day her one year old daughter Chunni succumbed to fever and cough that had wracked her little body for over a month. Every time Beliya had asked her school teacher husband Ayodhya Prasad for money for the treatment, she would be told that it was worthless to invest in a girl.Beliya, a Scheduled Caste, illiterate woman from Kusaipur village of Chitrakoot District was married to Ayodhya Prasad at the age of 15. Her father had spent to the best of his ability on the wedding of his only daughter. But that best had not satisfied her husband and in-laws, who taunted her daily for coming without any dowry. When Beliya’s first daughter was born, physical abuse was added to the verbal torment. Beliya’s lack of education, her cooking skills, how she spoke—anything and everything would prompt her husband to hit her. By the time the second and third daughters came he had started bringing other women home. Like Chunni, Beliya’s youngest Usha also died due to lack of medical attention. “You are as useless as the daughters you bear he told me”, remembers Beliya.

Beliya slipped into a deep sadness. Her father got her with him, thinking that a change of atmosphere would do her good. She was just learning to cope when Ayodhya Prasad sent her a divorce notice. When her father went to reason with him, he was abused and shooed away. She then filed a case under Section 498 A of the IPC for dowry harassment. Perturbed by the move and fearing social ridicule, Ayodhya Prasad pleaded with Beliya to come back and promised not to mistreat her. When she did go back, she found that her husband had re married. Beliya still hopeful of a change and mindful of social sanctions, agreed to share the home. Ayodhya Prasad’s second wife devised her own ways to drive Beliya out—denying her food and locking her up at will. The husband resumed his daily ritual of abuse.A year later, a completely broken but determined Beliya returned to her father’s home and approached Vanangana for help. As demanded by Beliya, the organization helped her file a case for maintenance under the Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005. A year later the court ordered that she be paid Rs 1500 monthly. For some months, Ayodhya Prasad complied but then challenged the decision in the High Court where it is still pending.

Vanangana had meanwhile started working on Beliya’s economic empowerment. She was trained in sewing and also helped to set up a small provision store. However Beliya’s simple and trusting nature—she found it impossible to say no to those who wanted to buy on credit, made the shop unviable. She now works as a daily wage labourer—carrying bricks on construction sites for Rs 100 a day. Her husband once sent her word that he would be willing to take care of their daughter if she come and live with him but Beliya refused as she is confident of taking care of her daughter.“I don’t trust him. Why did he not take her when she was little”, asks Beliya.Phoola, studies in class 8 in a private school, and Vanangana chips in with her school fees. She says that she does not want to go to her father. “He might give me comforts, but I have decided to fight with my mother”, she says.Together, mother and daughter are determined to win.