I re-started my life at 35. Traumatised and fearful, I left an abusive marriage of 10 years with two children, a daughter, then nine and a son of five. My beautiful little daughter had become quiet and withdrawn and my son had stopped speaking altogether.
Struggling mentally, physically, emotionally and financially, I somehow managed to hold my children and myself together with some semblance of balance. We have come a long way, my children and I. Our lives are finally peaceful. Life has been a struggle, and in many ways still is. But no problem detracts from the amount we have received, and receive every day.
For the past five years I have worked with issues of gender and domestic violence, having voluntarily counselled hundreds of women at the Crime Against Women cell of Delhi Police at Nanakpura New Delhi. In fact, the Delhi Police 2010 calendar was based on my first book on the subject of my own story.
To date I have prepared two widely acclaimed ready-reference booklets for the Special Police Unit for Women and Children, New Delhi, which are on Women and Child Laws and their rights as well as the duties of society towards them. These are entitled “Stop Violence against Women” and “Stop Violence against Children”. A special edition of my book “Room 103, Nanakpura Thana” was published by Delhi Police and distributed by them to various stakeholders of society – Judges, bureaucrats, decision makers ad NGOs amongst others.
I am the proud recipient of the CNN-IBN Zindagi Live award and Doordarshan’s Woman Achiever award of Aadhi Abaadi, baat Naari ki, the Bharat Excellence Award, the Karmaveer Puraskaar, the Neerja Bhanot Award and the Naari Shakti Puraskaar from the President of India. I was also praised by the Chinmaya Mission as a Karamyogi at the discourse of Karam Yoga of the Bhagvad Gita by their worldwide head Swami Tejomayananda. In addition I work with the Regional Bishops Conference of the Church on women’s issues.
I am on an Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence, the other members of which include the Representatives of UN Women, National Commission for Women, US Aid, Special Branch of Delhi Police and the International Center for Research on Women. I co-ordinate with Shelter homes, most especially the All India Women’s Conference to rehabilitate women – to get them a roof and food and help them develop skills through vocational training.
I have been on social awareness shows of CNN IBN, NDTV’s Salaam Zindagi, Doordarshan, Lok Sabha TV and on Satyamev Jayate, amongst many others. Articles and documentaries have featured me across the world from Mexico, Sweden, France to New Zealand. The latest issue “Chicken Soup for the Soul” inspirational series of books carries the story of my life, entitled “Awakening”.
I give talks and lectures to schools and colleges and students university on the human spirit, on courage, choices and strength. I am also a resource person for gender issues and human values for the National Indian Open Schooling. I also give talks and lectures at corporates on the human spirit and positivity, and also on the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Law, with the wider perspective of decorum, dignity and decency.
I am not a lawyer – but I know how imperative it is for women to receive legal help for free – survival is hard enough. Nobody knows that better than me.
About Woman of the Elements Trust
I run the Woman of the Elements Trust, which provides free legal aid to women and child victims of violence who are below the earning capacity of Rs. 5,000 a month. Legal and emotional counselling are free for women across earning capacities. I am not a lawyer – but I know how imperative it is for women to receive legal help for free – survival is hard enough. Nobody knows that better than me.
Despite running a free legal aid cell for women and children, at our Trust we believe that the best option is to change mindsets so that these problems do not resurface, so that each child can have a balanced home life with both parents in a happy environment. In fact, we first look at keeping the home intact through counselling and we work at amicable settlement of issues, if there are no chances for the marriage to work.
One of the long term objectives of the Trust is to work in the field of education. All answers to the problems in our society can be resolved through education. Another objective is to set up shelter homes for abandoned and abused women along with their children. We fight legal battles only as a last resort. I always say that fighting through the law is actually like trying to put a band-aid on a huge gaping wound – what needs to change is mindsets.
I always say that fighting through the law is actually like trying to put a band-aid on a huge gaping wound – what needs to change is mindsets.
Tell us about any new projects you are involved in
I have just initiated a project with the West District of Delhi Police called “Bandhu” which works to cement relationships between Police and Community, most especially the marginalised – women, and children from lower income areas and slums. This program is unusual as it works at internal awakening and fortification, of the police and the community, so as to build bridges and initiate a stronger, closer relationship between them.
I am now a published author of 11 books, all relating to the human spirit, of joy and abundance, of life and death and honouring, cherishing and living out every moment of life. I wish, through my books to change the mindsets of one and all – for women as well as men in our country – to open one and all to self-awareness, self-strength and joy. If I can change just one mindset, that would be my greatest achievement. All my books are available on Amazon here
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
Survival. When I left my abusive marriage, I was not even sure that I would be able to survive. The problems were so huge – my son was completely in a world of his own, my daughter was so quiet. We had no finances and no support. My own mind and body was completely shattered. Simply to survive was the biggest challenge for me.
My own mind and body was completely shattered. Simply to survive was the biggest challenge for me.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
My children. Most certainly my children. They are today what I would never have imagined in 2002 that they could ever be. My son is a gentle, loving and sensitive 17 year-old – giving his Class 12 boards from the National Open Schooling Board, with Psychology as one of his subjects. He was a Member of the Student Council in his School, and this child, who was once completely silent and withdrawn into the shell of his own mind, has today evolved into a young adult any parent would be proud of. He plans to do Sociology in the future, and work with the issues that I do.
My daughter is a 23 year-old, quietly strong and a completely sorted beautiful young lady. An English honours graduate from St. Stephen’s College, she is a Trustee on the Woman of the Elements Trust with me, and has also written a book with me on the lighter side of our life entitled “Out of Tune”, published by the Times of India. She has written the chapter on Patriarchy in my book “Haunted” on women, violence and the effect on children, also published by the Times of India. She has admission in SOAS, London University for pursuing Cultural Studies, and is now looking for scholarships. At SOAS she wishes to study the social and political role of culture with respect to women and violence in South Asia
My children are more than I ever dreamt they would be, and my five-foot frame stands six feet tall when I speak about them!
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I wouldn’t even let my mind go there! I love every single thing I do – and in doing so may different things, I feel that I live out so many facets of me. The beauty of what I do is that there are no limitations on me. I just go where my heart and mind take me, and I follow them both. I recently decided that I want to paint – so I simply started painting. It didn’t take away from any other thing that I do – and it only added to me.
What does the future hold for you?
I live the absolute abundance of life
I move forward, giving of myself when I want,
I live the entire fullness of life
Nothing can deter me, or daunt.
I know not where I came from
I have no designs, grand nor small,
But I give in to my every desire
Holding back from nothing at all.
I remember not where I came from
I know not where I will go,
I simply enjoy my journey
I live every moment as I flow.
Water, Water Woman am I….
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For additional reading please see the links below:
- Woman of the Elements Rashmi Anand
- Sonakshi Article
- Satyamev Jayate
- CNN IBN
- Rex Conclive: Karamveer Puraskaar
- IBN 7
- Dasra Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence
- TOI Chandigarh
- Chicken Soup for the Soul
- India Today
- Satyamev Jayate Article
- Global Issues, Domestic Violence in India
This article was provided by WeAreTheCity Delhi Committee Member, Ashish Bhardwaj.