By: Tamanna Basu
Nalini arrived at our office on 4th April with a desperate appeal to terminate her association with Org. A and transfer her case to Shakti Shalini. For months she had been trying to flee from the clutches of a violent family and find an institution that provides her correct support, security and treatment. Org. A. had failed to provide for her needs and rights as a victim of violence.
At the young age of 24, Nalini had secured a Diploma in Computers and was pursuing an M. Sc. degree and a Diploma in E.T.E. Having grown up in a metropolitan city like Delhi, Nalini was career focused and ambitious to learn, prosper and become an independent and successful woman, and strongly against the idea of marrying so young. Thus, she came in absolute conflict with the wishes of her family members.
Her family would beat her regularly, would not allow her to study and abuse her. She suffered physical and psychological violence.
India is one of the countries of the world where superstitions reign supreme. Blind faith in superstitions, magical or religious boloney aggressively perpetrated by fraudulent ‘babas’ and ‘sadhus’ (priests/ religious representatives) can be discovered in all parts of the country. Nalini’s mother was one such believer. She believed that Nalini’s refusal to get married is some contortion in her psyche that requires ‘cure’ through the magic of a quack in orange pretending to possess super powers. So she dragged her young daughter to the cottage of this ‘baba’ and left her there.
At the cottage Nalini discovered yet another young girl whom the ‘baba’ had kept as an ‘assistant’ (read: ‘captive’). This young girl was the baba’s play toy. His method of cure was an all time classic : rape (and beyond). He began the process of ‘curing’ Nalini. He made Nalini sit down and watch him conduct intercourse with the young girl he kept in his house.
Nalini had to watch an old man pretending to be a messenger of God have sex with a young girl whose body was being exploited in ways she could not understand and whose mind had been brainwashed and conquered. She had to watch this with her own naked eyes.
An incident straight out of the darkest recesses of human psychology.
Horrified, scarred, Nalini found a way to escape from that ‘godly’ cottage of nightmares and come back to her home. Soon enough her foolish, insensitive, violent and blinded mother brought the same ‘baba’ to their home and locked Nalini, her daughter, in a room with him. It should suffice to say that the baba made ample attempts to seduce and sexually exploit her in her own room, in her own house, with her own mother’s enthusiastic permission.
To break it down, a mother brought a rapist home, locked him in a room with her daughter and asked him to rape her.
Thankfully Nalini was not a child, she was a 24 year old educated woman who was able to fight this ‘image of God’ and prevent any great disaster.
At this point we’ll make a short digression. To emphasize the commonality of such ‘babaness’ in India, I would like to inspire you to click on the two links provided below.
- ‘Kissing Baba’ who kisses and gropes women straight to their spiritual enhancement and purification.
- BJP MP Saakshi Maharaj who made a young girl take her jeans off in public for him.
Both simply reflect another side of the ‘cultural diversity’ of India we are so proud of.
To return, seeking refuge from such physical and psychological violence at the hands of her own mother, Nalini fled from home and on 7th March she reached Org. A. It was a partially supportive organization. Nalini told them that she had decided to never return to her own home and would like to stay with them and get a job. They provided her shelter and all
necessary facilities. On 9th March there was a meeting at Org.A. between Nalini, her family and the organization which went well. However during the second meeting on the 14th, her family turned violent. They spoke ill of Org.A., threatened to disown her permanently and even to kill her if she doesn’t return home. Nalini refused to go home and was taken by Org. A. for job interviews on the 14th and 17th of March. On 1st of April another meeting with Nalini’s family took place where they had appeared to have experienced a change of heart. Her family members provided written promises to let Nalini study or work as she wishes, to not force her to marry, to never physically or verbally abuse her again, and to be held responsible for any harm that may come to Nalini. Somewhat convinced by their promises, Nalini decided to return home. That’s when a particular member of Org. A. called Roma turned hostile.
Once as Nalini returned from the kitchen, she heard Roma complaining about her on the phone. Roma was saying that Honey is not a right girl, she is stupid. Distressed Nalini went and sat in a separate room. Roma came to her and said, ‘Why are you sitting all alone like Kaikayi (a female character in the Hindu myth of Ramayana popularly considered to be a wicked woman), come I’ll leave you at the shelter home.’ Nalini remained silent. During the auto ride, on the way to the shelter, Roma said to Nalini, ‘I hope you didn’t mind what I said on the phone. I was only joking.’ Nalini had lost her faith in Roma and in Org. A.
On 4th April, Nalini arrived at Shakti Shalini and transferred her case to us. Thereafter, we held numerous counseling sessions with Nalini and meetings with her family members. Twice she was persuaded by her family to give them a second chance and return home on a temporary basis during which time we conducted regular home visits. Twice she returned to us complaining about her family’s, particularly her mother’s, mistreatment of her.
On 11th May, Nalini’s family reached the Shakti Shalini office in a massive group. They insisted on bombarding themselves through our office premises and taking Nalini with them. They were entirely aggressive and created quite a ruckus in and outside our office. With difficulty, we persuaded them to stay out of the office premises and to enter only in twos and threes or not at all. Throughout Nalini had to be protected and shielded from her family. We had to keep close to her while attempting to reason with her impossibly loud, masculinist family members or keep her in the safety of the office while we stood at the door of the office refusing to let her family push their way in. After a long session of verbal combat and resistance, the police finally arrived. The entire group had to move towards the police station to resolve the matter.
This saga with the police and Nalini’s family made us sensitive to a particularly prejudiced behaviour of one of the police constables. He seemed to have some sort of agreement or understanding with the family members. Caution is better than cure, so we acted on our hunch. We immediately sought the intervention of the Delhi Commission of Women and let the matter proceed in the police station until their representatives arrived on the scene. This was necessary to ensure that Nalini gets a neutral and unbiased environment to make such crucial decisions in. This presence of the DCW counsellors certainly kept the police at bay and did not allow them to ally with the family and pressurise Nalini in any way. DCW and Shakti Shalini assured Nalini that we would stand by her at all costs. However, Nalini chose to return home and go to her Mama’s (Mother’s brother’s) house. Her parents had to sign a written agreement to be entirely non-aggressive and provide all support and resources for her further education.
She currently lives with her (uncle) mama in Dehradun. We have continued to keep in touch with her via phone calls. She reports that she is fine, safe and is pursuing her education.
*All names in this article have been changed
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