Bilaso - owner of six goats and future dreams

06 Sep 2010 14:14:51 GMT
Source: DanChurchAid - Denmark
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the author's alone.

37 year old Bilaso Naik, single mother of two children used to work 25
km from home doing back breaking road construction the entire day.

Bilaso Naik stands with her son near her mud home
 Now with the help from DanChurch Aid’s partner Nari Surakha Samiti
(NSS) in Orissa she has recently started a new life rearing goats. The
animals was bought with money from financial aid received from the

A big hurdleEntitlements and access to rights for Dalits, Adivasis
(tribal), women and other vulnerable communities have been a long
drawn struggle in India with many legislations and orders passed by
the Government since Independence. Yet, accessing these rights and
entitlements in a timely manner seems to stand forth as the biggest
hurdles for vulnerable and marginalized masses. 37 years old Bilaso
Naik is one who overcame this odd.

Abused by husbandA resident of the Dalit hamlet in the village of
Bimal Beda in the Angul district of Orissa, Bilaso was a single mother
at twenty two with two children after her partner abandoned her. Her
relationship was not a legal marriage, but a commitment to a man who
made a false promise of marrying her. He beat her, abused her after
consuming alcohol and had multiple relationships.

Returned to her mother Fed up, she left it all to return to her
widowed mother. Today her family consists of her ailing mother and two
young sons. “I have accepted this as my destiny. For so long I have
heard people’s scorn, the taunts on my character. But what can I do?
I have a larger and bigger struggle- to earn a living, to feed my
family,† says Bilaso.

Patriarchal valuesIn India, patriarchal norms define the woman’s
“place† in society, her identity always attached to a male- a
father or a brother or a husband. Even with the most progressive
legislation on the subject, India’s hinterlands continue to be
dominated with overarching patriarchal values. The situation is made
complex by the multiple layers of vulnerabilities - a single Dalit
poor woman abandoned by her husband faces multiple levels of
discrimination and abuse.

First Single Women Survey in Orissa, IndiaIt is this group of
marginalized and exploited women that was identified by NSS in the
first ever single woman survey conducted in the district. The outcome
of the survey was the identification of more than 150 unwed mothers,
mostly Dalits who were victims of the false promise marriages. A list
was drawn of all the women and sent to the District Collector.

25 km to work “I was working as a wage labourer under the government
programme, NREGA, constructing roads. There was no work in my area†,
tells Bilaso. Last year one of the big multinational companies was
taking up work widening a road, so Bilaso had to travel 25 km to work
at that site. “An entire day of back breaking work and I used to
earn 90 INR (Indian rupees) a day. Last year I got work only for 4
months,† says Bilaso.

Accessing Government Schemes with Advocacy Sustained advocacy at all
levels of governance by NSS has ensured that a number of women in this
area get access to housing and a means to earn their livelihood.
Bilaso has recently received the first installment of money from the
Government scheme with which she has bought 6 goats. She is the only
earning member of her family and dreams of having a bigger business
rearing goats in the future.

By Priyanka Mukherjee Mittal
Regional Information and Documentation Officer, DanChurch Aid, India


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