Sikapara, busy with its mundane everyday chores received Amina Khatun six years ago as she first walked the bleak lanes of the village after her nikaah along with Zakir, her husband. She was only 21 when she adorned the robe of a housewife. As days passed by, she was firmly woven into the nuances of her role as a housewife in Sikapara. She wanted to be a mother next, which she believed to be the epitome of womanhood.
Amina Katum remained childless until 26 thanks to repeated miscarriages each year. This was followed by the doctor’s declaration that she can’t bear children, which acted as the last nail in the coffin of dreams. Thence began the dusk of her regular housewife days. Turning to Zakir for help was met with abuses, and she was called “Baazi” (childless woman) thereafter. It wasn’t long before she was subjected to ridicule and physical violence.
Another year turned. Between the commotions of physical and mental torture, Zakir expressed his desire to get married again. His faith made it mandatory to receive permission from his wife to remarry. And Amina said yes – that’s how Anuwara at the age of 23 entered Amina’s life.
Anuwara’s pride as the complete woman in the house inflated as she gave birth to two children in a matter of few years. This pride begot unchecked power, which now competed with Zakir’s in inflicting pain on Amina. Apart from being called Baazi by a feminine voice in the house, her earnings were being confiscated by her husband and co-wife. The violence finally reached its peak when Amina found herself homeless with neither her jewellery nor her savings.
She walked to her parents’ house with the shadows of diabolic experiences breathing down her neck. Understanding Amina’s sorry state of affairs, her parents stepped forward. They informed Hasina Khatun, field facilitator of AVAHAN. Amina narrated the episodes to Hasina as her face was veiled by an endless downpour of tears. The repeated visits and counselling of Hasina Khatun helped in improving her emotional state.
Amina decided to take the help of the legal aid centre. The counselling seemed fruitful as they reached a mutual consensus to stay together. But peace cringed as violence lurked in every corner of the house. It stealthily devoured Amina as Zakir and Anuwara metamorphosed as its agents once again. Lakhi, the SHG group in village, intervened when torture reached its crescendo once again. The tussle between the two groups culminated when Hasina along with the SHG members filed a police complaint in Amguri Police Station and then warned the couple.
Though violence spared Amina this time, it found its next victim in Anuwara as Zakir tortured her both physically and mentally to work and earn for the family. Anuwara approached Lakhi and Hasina, who once held her accountable along with Zakir, to resolve her plight. The SHG along with Hasina stormed into the house, warned him about the consequences of his action. It still remains a mystery, even after a year, if it was Zakir or the violence inside him that got threatened. He is a changed man and both his wives co-exist in harmony.
During the field facilitators last follow up session with the family, when asked if violence is justifiable, he replayed: “No, violence is not justifiable, I used to beat my wives but violence only brings unhappiness at home. Now I have realised that if I practice violence it will only hamper my inner peace”.
* Name changed to protect their identity