Husband used to beat like animals: Married at the age of 14, separated after 12 years; I have connected 1000 children with the school
Born in a tribal family. Papa was a bonded laborer. Out of 6 sisters, only I studied till 8th standard. If she went to school, upper caste boys used to tease her. He used to say to his father – being a Dalit tribal, you are teaching your daughter. Will you make me a masterine (teacher)? If you graze cows and goats, do business with us, then you will also get money.
Writer: Neeraj Jha
When she turned 14, her mother died of cholera. Father started fearing that if the young daughter stays at home without a mother, then Dabang would do something wrong with her. He got me married to a daily wage laborer of 24 years. When the in-laws came, the husband started beating her like an animal. I could not get out of bed for many days. She had to bear this vandalism for 12 years. After that she separated from her husband.
This is the story of Siya Dulari, a resident of Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh. Siya works for tribal women and children. He has played an important role in sending more than 1000 children from 50 villages to school.
These are the children who had missed their studies. Along with this, Siya has also given land pattas to more than 1400 people to live and do farming under the ‘Tribal Forest Rights Act’.
Siya visits tribal families door to door. Runs a campaign to send their children to school.
Siya, 42, runs the ‘Revanchal Dalit Adivasi Seva Sanstha’. The areas where Siya works are mostly inhabited by the Kol tribal community. In the last three-four years, there have been cases in about 10-15 villages where tribal people have been forced to sell their daughters due to poverty.
Siya says, ‘Those who do not get married. Middle-aged men buy these girls for 80 thousand to 1 lakh rupees. These people belong to other states. A few years ago, a tribal family sold their 17-year-old girl to a family from Uttar Pradesh. The man was 40 years old. He had three children.
When I came to know about this, I got an FIR registered with the help of UP and MP police. The boy went to jail. Got the girl rescued. Today that girl is living married to the boy of her choice. Siya has managed to stop half a dozen such cases.
Siya has only one dot on her forehead. He is wearing a glass bangle in his hand. Siya says, ‘Women’s bangles are broken when they become widows. Sindoor is not applied. My husband is alive, yet I live like a widow.
One day the husband broke all the bangles while beating with sticks. Tore off the dot and threw it away. The sari was burnt in the fire. Said- You should never apply vermilion in my name. Since then I live like this. Later, when people started saying that whatever happens, my husband is alive, isn’t it… Since then I just wear a dot.’
It is almost 10 in the morning. The staff working in Sia’s organization have started coming. Siya says, ‘Right now a team of 15 people is working with me. Once upon a time, I used to work in an organization for Rs.300 a month. Today again we have to go to the tribal areas and conduct a survey regarding nutrition. We are working on this project with a big NGO.
There are currently 15 people in Sia’s team, who are working for the tribals by joining them.
Siya tells about her early days, ‘I remember when I used to go to school, the upper caste children of the village used to walk in front. I used to walk behind, so that these people would not touch me. Sometimes, even by mistake, she would go ahead of these people, then the teacher accompanying her would slap her and say – you have to go a long way.
Till the second class, she used to go to study in another village, 3 km away from home. This was an upper caste village. These people used to tease us Dalit tribal girls. Used to look with dirty eyes. That’s why father used to forbid me to study. Because of this the elder sisters could not study. She used to go to the landlord’s place to cut soil, but I had to study.
When I went to study, upper caste people taunted my father and said – why brother, will you make your daughter a master. Papa could only say this in reply – Nahi sahib, masterine na banihe, ta apna naav-gaon tat likhne ke janihe (No sir, he may not become a teacher, but he will learn to write his name and village).
A year later, a school opened in my village too, but there was no building. Studies used to take place under the neem tree. From here I studied till 8th standard. The condition of untouchability in the village was such that my family members used to prepare the grain from the farm and send it to the landlords. After going inside the house, we could not touch the same grain.
Saying this, Siya’s eyes started to fill with tears. He is missing his parents, but he does not have any picture. Siya says, ‘I used to tell my mother since childhood that I want to become a teacher. Wanted to teach tribal children, but at the age of 14 this dream also got shattered.
It’s a matter of the 90s. Cholera was spreading in the village. The tribal people were most in its grip. One day the mother had gone to thresh paddy at the landlord’s place. When she returned from there, she was also caught by cholera. Vomiting and diarrhea started. The mother died within a week. My father got me and my younger sister married on the same day, at the same mandap. The procession had come from two villages. Sister was only 12 years old.
Siya regularly holds meetings with women and men of the tribal community in villages, listens to their grievances.
Do you have any pictures of your husband?
Siya keeps looking at me for a few seconds. She says, ‘have to see…’
After searching for a long time, Siya shows a black and white passport size photograph. She says, ‘When I came to my in-laws’ house, my husband wanted me to stay inside the house. Make a veil Don’t talk to anyone She used to carry a pot filled with water for many kilometers by placing it on her forehead.
I was old She could not lift the pot on her head and with the support of her waist. They used to fall and break. Because of this also my husband used to beat me.
It is a matter of 2000. Some members of CRY (Child Rights and You), an organization working for children, had come to the village. I was listening to these people from the threshold of the house. These people were talking about the women and children of the tribal community.
I thought I should work with them. One day I went and met these people without telling my husband. Then she started working from village to village with this team. My job was to conduct a survey of malnourished children. When the husband came to know, they started fighting.
Siya showing her husband’s picture.
Siya says, ‘After working for two-three years, an NGO hired me at a salary of Rs 300 a month. I used to stay out for training for many days. Because of this the husband started suspecting that I am having an affair with someone else.
How could a 8th pass girl understand. I told my husband about taking admission for further studies. He became enraged as soon as he heard it. Said – being the mother of three children, you will study. Will go out of the house. He beat me and made me bleed.
I had decided that I had to study. I took admission. Along with work, did 10th, 12th and then graduation. After this I decided to leave my husband. I had 3 children at that time.
Then started an NGO of my own. Sia says, ‘The cases of exploitation are also highest among tribal women. Now the situation has changed a bit. Because, these people do not know how to read and write at all, they are illiterate.
When I started working for tribal women, initially people protested. He said – I could not settle my house. Now we have gone to settle our house. Gradually, when I started working with the administration, block officers, big NGOs, people started seeing the change, then everyone started supporting.
Siya is also taking initiative to connect the women of her community with employment by training them.
Siya tells that people from tribal families go outside their homes to earn. Pregnant women do not know how to take care of themselves and their baby. How many children should be born?
Such cases had come from about 15 villages, in which women used to die during pregnancy itself. Many women died during childbirth. The main reasons for this were lack of blood, delivery at home and not taking vaccination from time to time during pregnancy.
These people did not take vaccine because of superstition. We started telling them its benefits, then gradually the cases decreased.
You can read three more stories of Khuddar Kahani…
- Story of Vikas who performed 5000 funerals for free: The woman was shivering with cold, she gave a shawl and covered her son’s dead body
‘It must be 2 o’clock in the night, it was bitterly cold. Suddenly the mobile phone rang. The guard of the hospital had a call. As soon as he picked up, there was a voice in his tongue, a 22-year-old boy has died. He has an old mother. The dead body has to be taken to the village. When I reached with the hearse, I saw that the old mother was sitting hugging her son and was shivering with cold. ‘ (Read full news)
- Dabangs used to take away daughter-in-laws: fear was such that she used to carry an axe, now I have connected 800 Dalit children with education
The upper castes dominated the village. They do not allow any Dalit to step out of the house after dusk. The daughters-in-law of Dalit families would be taken away. Papa was in the police, one day he had an argument and shot a upper caste in anger. He was sent to jail. After that the Dabanggs started troubling us more. (Read full news)
- Mother scavenged, I grazed pigs: picked up garbage, worked as a bus conductor; Then became an officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs
It was a matter of 70s, I used to wake up every morning and go to feed the pig. Mother used to do the work of scavenging and cleaning. Papa was 9th pass, so he wanted us not to do this work. For this reason, father used to work in a brick kiln. I also used to go to make bricks while returning from school.
Courtesy: Dainik Bhaskar
Note: This news piece was originally published in dainikbhaskar.com and used purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Rights.
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