Amala Devi inspires many in her village.
Amala Devi resides in the village of Mohna, Bihar, with her husband and father. She used to work and live on a farm as a bonded labourer. She and her family were given only 3.5 kgs of grain as payment at the end of the harvest. With increased political awareness, along with members of the most marginalised dalit community (MahaDalit), she and her husband demanded monetary rights for their labour and were not comfortable being ‘bonded labourers’.
One day, she fell sick and couldn't go on the farm to work. While she was resting a group of male members of the zamindar (landlord) family dragged her out of her home by her hair, spat on her, kicked her and beat her. Thankfully, a few people from the community managed to rescue her and take her to the hospital where she fought for her life.
Amala Devi did not accept defeat - she filed a case against the landlord’s family.
The community supported her during her fight. When Samajik Chetna Kendra started working with the community, a group of women came together and formed a committee called Mahila Dastak under its guidance. They were told about the various forms of violence against women. Two women leaders, Mohni Devi (Kanholi village) and Chandrakala Devi (Simra village) who were part of the Mahila Dastak took up Amala’s case.
The result of the collective force of the Mahila Dastak has been incredible and inspirational. The harassment and threats to the community by the landlords has been stopped. They have not made any attempts to reclaim the land. It is a victory not only for Amala Devi but the community as well.
“People were not sure if I would survive the physical violence. Now I go to the court and police station on my own. Mohni didi and the other women have helped us a lot; and we have decided that we will take the case forward till we reach justice and proper compensation”, Amala said with quiet confidence.
On the occupied land, the women have built an Anganwadi under MGNREGA. They now fish from the pond and also sell mangoes from the orchard.
Written by Oxfam India staff