“I am Roshonara, a member of Utthan. As a member of Utthan I fight against trafficking, but my fight against violence goes beyond that. Where I live in North 24 Parganas of West Bengal, incidents of domestic violence and abuse is an everyday phenomena. Women’s lives are controlled through many avenues, and I had joined Utthan to be able to fight back against this.
In our villages, having a son is a thing of pride. So when my cousin sister gave birth to two daughters one after the other, and then was pregnant with the third one, her husband started pushing her to abort the pregnancy thinking what if they again get a daughter. Now, I have been brought up by my uncle and aunt, this cousin’s parents. So we have grown up together. My cousin one day called me and spoke with me at length – by now she knows how I have been getting trainings on law, and rights, and how I have been supporting people to stand up for their rights. She told me the entire story, and asked me for my help – she wanted to keep the baby. So one day, when her husband wasn’t home, I went to their house. We discussed at length the options available to her, and together we planned what to do now. As per our discussion, my cousin left the house with her children, and went to another relative’s place. I came back to my home. That’s when the hounding from her husband began. He kept calling me and asking where his wife is and I refused to tell him. He came over to where I lived with my uncle and aunt and started arguing with me. My uncle and aunt were initially supporting him. I kept arguing the point that he cannot know whether the child will be a girl or a boy, and that even if it’s a girl, she has as much right to live as a boy. He brought up several problems now – who will take care of my sister’s work while she’s pregnant, who will look after her etc. I kept my calm, and offered solutions. In the end, my uncle and aunt also started seeing my point. He now had no other option but to agree for my cousin to keep the child. When he found he had no support from anywhere, and that the family was in my and my cousin’s support, he had to stop trying to force his decision on her life. As a leader and a change maker in my community, THIS is what I aim to do, and hope to keep doing – ensure that families and communities start supporting and standing up for women’s rights, and challenge perpetrators of violence!”