Note: All names have been changed to protect the identity of the client
This is the story of Ameesha. She is 24 years old and belongs to a tribal community of one of the northeastern states of India. She lives with her husband in Dimapur, Nagaland. Her husband runs a printing press in the city and they have been married for 12 years now.
Ameesha and Rajesh got married in the year 2005. The couple were unemployed at the time. In 2006, Ameesha got pregnant but her husband got into illegal trade and was subsequently sent to prison.
Ameesha had no one to look after her even during her pregnancy, as her parents had passed away and she had no siblings either. After a while, her husband got bail. However, her husband began an affair with another woman which led to regular fights between the couple. Aside from this, her husband was physically abusive towards her on several occasions.
Ameesha decided to approach her maternal uncle for a loan amount to open a paan shop within her locality which was subsequently granted to her. Her husband’s abuse and bad behaviour continued anyway.
In 2007, Ameesha sought help from a nearby Catholic Sisters Mission Institute. Since she was not ready to take any sort of legal action against Rajesh, the sisters provided counselling to both her and her husband.
In the year 2008, her husband bought an auto-rickshaw and began driving it. During this time he began an affair with another woman. This caused Ameesha, severe emotional trauma.
In 2009, they closed the paan shop, sold the auto-rickshaw and started running a tea stall.
In the year 2012, Ameesha became pregnant with her second child. During this time, her husband stole her ATM Card and withdrew Rs. 80,000 without her knowledge. She had saved up the money so that she could use it for her delivery expenses. Rajesh then ran away to Guwahati with the woman he was having an affair with, at the time.
He returned home after a while. Ameesha found an ATM transaction receipt in his pocket and questioned him. He denied using it and insisted that the money was from his own earnings.
When it was time for her delivery, Rajesh dropped her off at the hospital and went away leaving her unaccompanied in her delicate condition. As her husband did not turn up after her delivery, a woman known to Ameesha came to fetch her from the hospital.
Soon after, Ameesha got to know from a source that her husband had been in a relationship with the woman for more than 6-7 years now. Ameesha decided to go to the place where her husband was reportedly lodged and found them both there. During the heated argument between the two, her husband pulled her hair and dragged her down the stairs.
On 4th December 2016, Rajesh came home drunk in the evening and saw the children watching television. He slapped the children, disconnected the cable wire and forced them to go to sleep. At midnight while Ameesha was asleep, her husband forced her to have sex with her. Upon her refusal, her husband beat her up and inserted chillies in her genitals.
Following this argument, Ameesha left her home and took an apartment where she lived by herself. On several occasions, she would go to her husband’s house and plead with him to let her take the children with her, but he refused every time.
During this time, Ameesha became acquainted with a neighbour who helped her in overcoming a difficult situation. Rajesh used this as another excuse to turn her away, refusing to give her children back to her and subsequently accused her of having an affair with the said neighbour.
Not surprisingly, Ammesha became worried and depressed and this was when she once again decided to go to the sisters at the Missionaries of Charity for assistance who then referred her to Sakhi-OSC.
Sakhi-OSC was able to aid Ameesha in availing free legal aid service from the District Legal Services Authority. The counsellor at OSC provided her with Psycho-Social support and is constantly following up with her. She is also being provided with Vocational Training. We hope for the best for both Ameesha’s children and herself.
A poem inspired by Ameesha’s story
All that belongs to me
My name has been stolen from this poem
To protect it from you.
Ameesha will do. Rajesh will do.
We are from Dimapur, Nagaland.
Do you know it?
This could be anyone’s story;
But it is mine.
Marriage stole my name
A long time ago for
my man to keep it safe.
That’s not all he stole.
Sticky fingers landed him in prison
While I grew a foetus for when he returned.
In time I have my baby;
In time, my man returns:
All the things that should be mine
If only he were faithful.
(The love that should be mine,
Stolen for another woman.)
But this heart of mine is a fighter
Not that it helps.
I opened a paan shop. He drives a rickshaw.
I am pregnant again. He has an affair again.
He closes my pan shop. We opened a tea shop.
This is the life I have to call mine.
All this theft and he is still greedy.
My money, 80,000 rupees of my labour.
Another woman, a sinkhole for my loyalty.
I have a baby alone, and a beating with him.
Pulled down by my hair, chillies in my cunt.
Fists raised against the children who were mine.
My body, no longer mine.
My consent, never mine.
I run, but I cannot carry in my arms
The children I carried in my womb.
And still, I do not own safety.
And still, I do not own freedom.
How do I reach for help?
Christian charity reaches for me,
But all I own is with him.
Fighting for my children, my home, my self;
I am here to tell you that I am mine
And he can not have me.
— By Rohini Malur
— Story submitted by Sakhi One Stop Centre, Dimapur
Sakhi centre or One Stop Centre (OSC) is a fully sponsored Central Government scheme. These centres are set up through the Nirbhaya Fund under the National Mission for Empowerment of women by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.