Dr Kouser Fathima
My help’s daughter Shaheen is a good student, after having scored very good marks in school exams had enthusiastically joined college to pursue higher studies. In one of my conversations, she had informed me about her intention to become a computer engineer. Seeing her determination and hard-work it didn’t look like an impossible task . But then she told me she was soon getting married and it left me shocked.
Her mother Shakila ,who was also very supportive of her daughter had come to inform about her engagement.
Shakila was a brave lady, working as a help in many houses to support her children and was also taking care of her sick husband .
She faced many problems but wanted a better future for her daughters. So, this decision of hers was not only surprising but unexpected. Upset by news, I asked the reason for her action, but what she told me was even more shocking.
The place she lived with her family was full of young boys, who were both illiterates and unemployed. These young men often spent most of their time indulging in eve-teasing girls of their neighbourhood. Since Shakila was away from home most of the time, her daughters were easy targets for these ‘predators.’
The fact her daughter went to college made the matters worse . Shakila’s complaints to the culprit boy’s parents and warnings had no affect on them. Her sick husband and relatives suggested Shakila got her daughter married. For Shakila, her safety and reputation in society were more important than her education. Search for suitable boy began and they found an electrician, who was employed with decent earning. A decent proposition for any girl in Shaheen’s what more would a girl like Shaheen want? But Shaheen wanted to continue her studies, work and look after her family. She had big dreams, which were shattered only because some sick men in her locality chose to give her grief.
Forget engineer, she could even settle for a career in teaching, but even that looked like a distant dream. I tried to convince Shakila against her decision but she appeared helpless. She was visibly frightened about of her daughter’s safety. I had never seen her so weak and shaken. After much deliberations with the would-be groom and his family a solution was found. It was decided that Shaheen would be engaged, complete her degree before getting married in a year’s time.
We tasked Shaheen’s mother and brother with the responsibility to both drop her to college and pick her after she had finished her classes. We felt that a girl who was engaged and soon to get married was less likely attract much attention.
This episode raises many questions about girls’ safety in ghettos and problems faced by people living there. Not that the safety is not an issue elsewhere but poverty and illiteracy usually tend to compound the situation. Male family members here always alcoholics, aggressive and at times violent towards womenfolk in their houses. Women in these house had never been to school, thereby having very little or no knowledge about laws. Hence, their apprehension to approach the police for any help. Stopping their education and getting them married is an easy solution to their problems .
Many would be surprised to read this but sadly this is a reality. Our youth with no complete education and no work are not only wasting their life but also causing troubles to others. The locals with the help of police should form committees to check such untoward incidents and take strict action against such youngsters. Shaheen was fortunate and had a chance to at least complete her basic education but all girls are not so lucky. They suffer because as a society we can’t offer any protection to them? Safety of our girls has to be the utmost priority for all of us because an educated girl is not just an asset to her family but the whole country.
NOTE: Views expressed are the author’s own. Janta Ka Reporter does not endorse any of the views, facts, incidents mentioned in this piece.