“LSE has empowered me” – Mahima (Anonymous Hero)
17 year old Mahima Pawar (name changed to protect identity) comes from a small village in Ratnagiri which is in the interior of Maharashtra. Her ancestors migrated to Mumbai in search of better job opportunities as they were daily wage labourers. Back in her village, there were very few job opportunities and much of her family members did not own land. It has been almost 40 years now and they currently stay in Marol area. Her family consists of 6 members including the eldest member – her grandmother who helps in household work. Her father recently underwent a bypass surgery while her mother prepares lunch boxes for office staff. While Mahima studies in 10th Std., her younger brother is in 6th std. and her younger sister studies in 10th Std.
Mahima encountered Mumbai Smiles Foundation and its work in the year 2014 – 2015 when she was informed about it by a staff member. Through this, she got to know about the Life Skills Empowerment (LSE) project conducted by the foundation. After being briefed up about the project, Mahima found it very interesting and an opportunity to improve her socio-economic condition. She decided to join the project and was fortunate to be amongst the first batch within this initiative. Her testimony speaks of the tremendous impact that the LSE project has made in her life and in the lives of her family members and most importantly the challenges and obstacles she faced along the way.
“This project has increased my knowledge and confidence a lot because of which I could deal with and overcome a very bad situation. LSE has empowered me with knowledge and confidence to fight for my own Rights. In 2014-15 under the LSE project we had a police station visit, where we came to know about Rights and laws related to women. Also, during the visit we came to know about the process to be followed to file FIR (First Information Report) or complaints. We had good discussions with police officers and they promised us of their support and guidance whenever we needed it.
Navratri Festival had started after a few weeks of the visit. I went to play Garba with my friends but on my return, I noticed a few rowdy boys eve-teasing all the girls and women that were crossing the path, including us. They were passing lewd comments at us, singing songs with dirty lyrics and when my friends and I crossed the road, two of them even dared to start walking along with us. This really upset me and I screamed at them. Those boys started laughing shamelessly! I even warned them that I will file a complaint with the police but it had no effect on those shameless hooligans at all.
Somehow we got rid of them and then when I reached home, I told the whole incident to my mother and asked her to come with me to police station. But my mother got scared and she told me to ignore the incident. She was worried what if the police complaint doesn’t help? Then those boys might become violent and dangerous for us. So she asked me to stay quiet, ignore instances in future too and keep my head down. I explained to my mother that if I did not stop them now then those boys will come again and again and every time the level of torture will also increase. So we have act now to stop them here.
At midnight then, my mother and I went to the police station and filed the complaint against those boys and police then took action immediately on my complaint and arrested those two boys and has taken legal action against them. After this incident those boys never troubled me or my friends. Hope they have learnt their lesson for life!”
Her experience not only speaks of bravery and the courage to go and file a complaint, but also opens the discussion of the reality of what young girls and women face today in society. And we are super proud of you Mahima!