Read how Lalthanzami of Mizoram left behind a life of domestic violence and inspired other victims to stand on their feet too. They not only earn their own bread and butter but have also learnt not to suffer in silence. Their journey from abuse to empowerment is inspiring.
It is generally believed that women in North East enjoy far greater freedom and suffer less abuse than their counterparts in other parts of India. Unfortunately this is just a myth. A growing tide of domestic violence and dowry deaths clearly indicate that when it comes to the rights of women, the North East suffers the same fate as elsewhere. In the state of Mizoram too, women are increasingly suffering abuse at the hands of husbands who often leave them without any financial support.
G. Lalthanzami of Mizoram was brave enough to walk out from an abusive marriage along with her small son. But what she did next took even more courage. Lalthanzami desperately wanted to learn how to speak in English and operate a computer. She knew that without these skills, it would be very difficult to fulfill her dreams. But she was without any means of supporting herself. She finally took a step forward.
She came to know about Foundation for Social Transformation (FST), a philanthropic organization based in the North East, working exclusively to provide grants to promote grass root work for development. She applied for a grant which was quickly approved and a new avenue of opportunity opened up for Lalthanzami.
She spent the next year learning how to work on a computer and honed her English speaking skills. She could now write in English too, which was impossible for her before.
Lalthanzami did not stop at empowering just herself. She wanted to help other victims of domestic violence in her area. In spite of the growing rate of gender violence, safe homes for women are unavailable in Aizawl. Without a place to go, most women suffer in silence. The society too nurtures an attitude of negative discrimination against women who walk out of abusive marriages. Lalthanzami wanted to change this attitude of silence towards domestic violence, and provide other survivors a safe refuge.
She was able to use her Computer and English skills to connect with other people working for women’s rights, get more training on human rights, and even apply for different funds to start a home for other survivors of domestic violence. She used all her meager resources to start a ‘Safe Home’ for women who suffered domestic abuse and had nowhere to go along with their children.
The next year, Lalthanzami applied for another grant. This time she wanted to start a piggery project and employ other victims of domestic abuse so that they had a steady source of income. This grant too was approved by FST and, with the amount, Lalthanzami purchased a couple of pigs to start the enterprise.
Lalthanzami has won accolades for her pioneering work, including the State Level Youth Club Award in 2010 conferred by Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan,Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Govt. of India. She was also awarded with Dr. Ambedkar Fellowship National Awards 2010 by Bharatiya Dalit SahityaAkademy.
Unfortunately, funds to run the Safe Home ran out and since 2013, Lalthanzami has been trying to raise the much needed money. FST has started a campaign to revive Lalthanzami’s Safe Home. They are trying to raise enough to support at least 20 women survivors of gender and domestic violence. The Safe Home, in addition to providing a place to stay, will help the women get access to legal and psycho-social counselling, and livelihood training.
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