“Chehra dekh lene se kya hoga?” (what would happen if someone would see my face?).
Rajeeyah Khatoon (name changed), 18, said.
She did not like to wear “Burqa” (a garment worn by the Muslim women to cover their faces and body). She was opposed by her family; still, she tried to convince.
She used to go to the college and play with her friends without wearing Burqha. She was being criticized by her neighbors in the village saying, “Dekho-dekho Rajeeyah bina Burqa pehen kar nikli hai…..”(Look at Rajeeyah, she has come out of the house without wearing Burqa…..), “Kitni besharam hai ye ladki?” (How shameful is this girl?), “Ma-baap ne achi cheez sikhaya nahi hai kya?” (Didn’t your father and mother taught you right things?)
She did not even bother what the community people are saying. She just focused on convincing her parents, which was important for her.
Gradually her parents tried to understand her disinterest towards wearing Burqha. Her family finally agreed with her decision.
By seeing her many other friends of hers got encouraged. While going to the college, they used to come out of the house wearing Burqa and used to remove it after.
Another daring step,
Some boys teased her while she was going to college with her friends. They followed her long way, but somehow she managed to reach her High School.
During the village meeting, she shared the incident in front of all the villagers. The action was taken by the villagers: the boys were caught later, they were forced to apologize to the girls, and a bond was written by them that they would not tease girls anymore.
Rajeeyah took these bold steps in her community to challenge social norms as well as the societal evils.
She says,” I am thankful to Srijan Foundation that they had faith in me that I can also be a change maker in the community.”
She was engaged in the ‘It’s My Body’ (IMB) project. The community mobilizers identified her as one of the strong adolescent girls in the community. She was selected as the leader in Anokhi Kishori Samuh (an adolescent group in the community). She loves to play football and even participated in many tournaments.
She, then, received training in Deendayal Upadhaya Koushal Vikas Yojana, a skill-building training programme on BPO, sales, retail training, hotel management. From there she along with her friends was placed in Bangalore. After convincing her family, she went there but soon left the job as the workers were not paid as per the agreement. She then went to Ahmedabad along with some of her friends and finally she is working there as a supervisor in the company, Motherson Ltd. Besides, she is also continuing her studies, pursuing B.A. in Karnapurna College in Barkagaon at Hazaribagh.
Srijan Foundation is working by focusing on organizing the young and adolescents through group-based intervention. The regular meetings, training, peer learning exercises, interface with service providers, linkage building with skill development initiatives, financial institutions, sensitization towards gender issues and other social issues create a platform for all. The efforts under the interventions play a vital role in creating safe spaces, enabling environment, and, creating awareness of the adolescent and young to participate in the mainstreaming processes. All these help to make people understand the need and importance of friendly approaches towards adolescent girl’s education, training, and other development measures.
Written by Tanaya Nag and Edited by Mujeebu Rahman