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"I dream a different life for my daughters"

- By: Rekha -

My father passed away when I was five-years-old. All my brothers went to school but my sisters and I were not allowed to go. One of my sisters rebelled and started going to school. She was beaten up by my brothers for that. She managed to study till Class 5th. I and my other sister used to stay at home.

During that time, a girl was raped in our neighbourhood which led to our brothers stopping us from even going to the market. ‘Jo bi chahiye wo ghar par hi milega, bahar nahi jayegi tu' (Whatever you want, you will get it in the house but you won’t go outside), my brothers said.

After marriage also, my mother-in-law never let me go out. I was married at the age of twenty one. I was not asked if I wanted to get married. ‘Dar lagta tha shaadi se kyunki maine aapne bhai ko apni biwi ko maarte hue dekha tha’ (I was scared because I had seen my brother hitting his wife). My mother also could not say anything because my eldest brother was considered the head of the family.

Everything went well in the first year of my marriage but after a while, my mother-in-law started torturing me for not having a child. ‘Agar tere bacche nahi hue toh tera kya karenge hum, apne bete ki doosri shaadi kara denge' (What is the point of having you in this house if you cannot bear a child? I will get my son remarried), she said. She would also go to the police station and file a complaint against me. Once the police came to the house and asked me if I had hit her, I refused. She got furious and started abusing me in front of them. The police asked me to file a complaint if she hits or abuses me again.

My mother-in-law wanted a grandson for which she kept abusing and taunting me. I had my first daughter in 2008, two years after my marriage. Later, even people from my street teased me for having two daughters. I had my third child who was a son. I had to stop my classes (provided by an NGO) to look after my son because he was physically disabled. By then, I had appeared for my Class 3rd examination. He passed away in a month.

Around that time, I heard from a neighbor about Azad Foundation which was training women to be drivers. I wanted to join it but I thought I need to study more for it and was scared to step out of my house alone. My husband said that he will support me and asked me to join it. He also hired a private tutor for me to study.

Today, I have two daughters, one, 8-years-old and the other, 10-years-old. I was not allowed to go to school but I wanted my daughters to get educated. Despite having financial problems, I send them to private schools. My husband once said, ‘Unhe choola chokha hi toh karna hai, kyun karna hai padhai?’ (If they are going to end up doing household work, what is the point of educating them?) I got angry and told him that I will get my daughters the best education.

Currently, Rekha is finishing her driving training from Azad Foundation and will soon start driving a taxi. Her dream is to start supporting her family financially and make her daughters get access to education that she never had.

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