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Tag: Aroehan

Barbarity behind a “marriage”

Marriage is said to be one of the happiest moments in a person’s life. Some call it a sacred bond. But this true story of a marriage is shocking showing the blackening of humanity. It mirrors the perverse mentality of exploiting and oppressing girls and women (especially tribals) in society by taking advantage of their poverty and helplessness.

This is the story of a 17-year-old minor girl from Katkari Wadi of Mokhada, a tribal-dominated taluka of Palghar district. 5 to 6 Kms from the Taluka location lies a village called Poshera. To the east of this village is Katkari Wadi with a population of around 600-700. It was reported that a minor girl named Abla (the name is changed) was being forced to marry in exchange for money and the girl was being pressured for it. A social worker from AROEHAN came to know about the situation. Realizing the seriousness of the incident, the activists of the organisation reached the village immediately. They met with the minor and her family. The reality of the situation was shocking.

AROEHAN ACTIVISTS INQUIRE THE SITUATION IN KATKARI WADI

It was reported that an unknown person from Chalisgaon-Nagar Deola in Jalgaon district has a connection with a middleman in the tribal community to take the advantage of the poverty and helplessness of tribes. The minor’s aunt revealed that the suspect gave the father Rs. 15,000 in exchange for marrying the girl to him and would give Rs. 50,000 more after the marriage. The father signed the affidavit for it. (This affidavit is available but we do not have a copy with us). The minor’s mother passed when she was young and was looked after by her aunt. The father’s financial condition is poor and is an alcoholic. He does not pay attention to the girl and agreed with the marriage proposal in exchange for money. None of the rites of pre-wedding took place, the girl did not even see the person once. To impress the daughter and the father, the person used to send photos of expensive clothes and sarees and pressured her to get married to him as soon as possible. The girl talked with the boy a couple of times on the phone. As the situation looked suspicious, the relatives told the mediator to make proper arrangements to see the boy. The broker instead told the father to go to the boy’s house and do the “Kumkum ceremony”. The father said they cannot have a such ceremony without the daughter. Upon insistence, both father and girl went to boy’s house but there were no people responsible for the ceremony present. The aunt became suspicious about the situation and asked the girl’s father to take a hard look at the situation. He thought about it and decided not to marry the girl.

After the rejection, the broker pressured the family to return the Rs. 15,000. The father and the daughter were shocked. They could not return the money as it was already spent. They reached out to AROEHAN and we gave them support. We asked them not to give him any money. The broker came to the village and AROEHAN’s activists had a conversation with him. The broker was warned not to pester the family anymore or there will be legal action against him. He publicly agreed to not ask for money again. Though the issue was resolved it brought attention to a bigger issue here. There’s a suspicion there is criminal activity possibly backed by a gang or individual to sell/traffick tribal girls in the name of marriage going on. Because we came to know from many people about the occurrence of such incidents in the area. 

According to them, every year in Jawhar and Mokhada many tribal girls go missing. A muffled discussion could be heard about it now and then. These incidents do not come forward due to the dire economic condition of the tribes, lack of awareness among people, and also issues like alcoholism play a role in it. It is said that parents of girls fall prey to the lure of a small amount of money and engage their daughters. Even if there is any sort of opposition, the parents sometimes take the culprit’s side as they have taken the money. They also get afraid of the brokers and the other party thinking they might harm the family or even murder them, and they don’t come forward with the issue. What’s more numbing is that the brokers who arrange such marriages to take advantage of poor people and minor girls are often from their own community and locality. Due to sheer unawareness and fragile conditions, sometimes parents don’t even realise their daughters are been taken advantage of and there is no question of anyone complaining. This terrible reality is not publicly read or recorded anywhere. Even after 75 years of independence tribals are making such bargains for their daughters and their wings are cut before they even get a chance to fly. What kind of freedom do we live in? It’s high time we look at such situations carefully and act now.

-Pradeep Khairkar
AROEHAN

                                                                                                                

एका लग्नामागचे क्रौर्य …  !

खरं तर लग्न हा मनुष्याच्या  आयुष्यातील एक आनंददायी ठेवा म्हटला जातो. काही जण त्याला पवित्र बंधन असेही म्हणतात. पण मी आज ज्या लग्नाची सत्यकथा  सांगणार आहे ती संवेदनशील माणसाची मती गुंग करणारी  आहे, माणुसकीला काळिमा फासणारी आहे. आणि समाजातील मुली-महिलांच्या (विशेषत: आदिवासी) गरिबी व असाहाय्यतेचा फायदा घेऊन त्यांचे  शोषण आणि दमन करण्याच्या विकृत मानसिकतेचा आरसा दाखवणारी आहे.

ही गोष्ट आहे पालघर जिल्ह्यातील मोखाडा या आदिवासीबहुल तालुक्याच्या कातकरी वाडीतील एका १७ वर्षीय अल्पवयीन मुलीची. तालुक्याच्या ठिकाणापासून ५ ते ६ कि.मी. अंतरावर पोशेरा हे गाव वसलेले आहे. या गावाच्या पूर्वेला साधारण ६००-७०० लोकसंख्या असणारी कातकरी वाडी आहे. या ठिकाणी  अबला नावाच्या (नाव काल्पनिक आहे) एका अल्पवयीन मुलीचे पैशाच्या मोबदल्यात जबरदस्तीने लग्न लावण्याचा घाट घातला असून त्यासाठी मुलीवर दबाव टाकला जात असल्याची  माहिती ‘आरोहन’ या सामाजिक संस्थेच्या कार्यकर्तीला मिळाली. तिने संस्थेच्या वरिष्ठांना येऊन ही माहिती सांगितली. घटनेचे गांभीर्य ओळखून  संस्थेच्या कार्यकर्त्यांनी ताबडतोब  ते गाव गाठले. आणि पीडित मुलीच्या वडिलांची, काकीची व मुलीची भेट घेऊन सत्य परिस्थिती जाणून घेण्याचा प्रयत्न केला. माहिती घेत असताना जे वास्तव समोर आले ते अंगावर काटा आणणारे होते.

कातकरी येथील परिस्थितीची तपासणी करताना आरोहण

जळगाव जिल्ह्यातील चाळीसगाव-नगर देवळा येथील एका अनोळखी व्यक्तीने आदिवासी समाजातीलच एका मध्यस्थ दलालाला  हाताशी धरून मुलीच्या व तिच्या वडिलांच्या गरिबीचा, अज्ञानाचा व असाहाय्यतेचा फायदा घेऊन मुलीस १५ हजार रुपये  देऊन व वडिलांस ५० हजार रुपये देण्याचे आमिष दाखवून तिच्याबरोबर जबरदस्तीने लग्न करण्याबाबत प्रतिज्ञापत्र लिहून घेतले असल्याची माहिती मुलीच्या  काकीने दिली. (हे प्रतिज्ञापत्र उपलब्ध होऊ शकले नाही, त्याची प्रत मुलीच्या नातेवाईकांकडे देण्यात आली नाही.) मुलीच्या आईचे  मुलगी लहान असतानाच निधन झाले असल्याने लहानपणापासून काकीनेच तिचा सांभाळ केला. वडिलांची आर्थिक परिस्थिती अतिशय हलाखीची असल्याने व व्यसन असल्याने मुलीकडे त्याचे लक्ष नव्हते. ५० हजाराच्या आमिषाने सुरुवातीला त्यानेही या लग्नास संमती दिली होती.  परंतु लग्नासाठी आवश्यक असणारे कोणतेही रीतीरिवाज पाळले गेले नव्हते. मुलीला पाहण्याचा कार्यक्रम झाला नव्हता. मुलीला व वडिलांना प्रभावित करण्यासाठी, नवरा मुलगा या मुलीच्या फोनवर बस्ता बांधल्याचे फोटो (भारी कपडे व साड्या, इ.) पाठवून लवकरात लवकर लग्न करण्याबाबत दबाव वाढवत होता. एक दोन वेळा मुलाशी फोनवरून संभाषणही करण्यात आले. हे प्रकरण संशयास्पद वाटल्याने  मुलीच्या पाहण्याचा रीतसर कार्यक्रम करावा असे नातेवाईकांनी मध्यस्थाला सांगितले. परंतु  मध्यस्थाने फक्त वडिलांना ‘मुलाच्या घरी जाऊन कुंकू लावण्याचा कार्यक्रम करू’ असे सांगितले. वडिलांनी मुलीशिवाय असा कार्यक्रम कसा करता येईल? असा प्रश्न उपस्थित केला. अखेर वडिलांच्या आग्रहाखातर, हो -ना करत मुलगी व वडील मुलाच्या घरी कुंकू लावण्याच्या कार्यक्रमासाठी गेले. तेथेही कार्यक्रमासाठी  कोणी जबाबदार माणसे नव्हती. या सगळ्या गडबडीमुळे मुलीच्या काकीला संशय आला. तिने तिच्या वडिलांच्याही निदर्शनास ही बाब आणून दिली. अखेर विचारांती त्यांनी हे लग्न करण्यास नकार दिला.  

 हा नकार मिळाल्यानंतर मध्यस्थ दलालाने मुलीकडे १५ हजार रुपये परत करण्याचा तगादा लावला. तिच्यावर दबाव टाकू लागला. त्यामुळे मुलगी, तिचे वडील व काकी हवालदिल झाले होते. कारण पैसे तर खर्च झाले होते. आता पैसे आणायचे कुठून? या विवंचनेत ते पडले होते. अशा परिस्थितीत अडकलेल्या या कुटुंबाला ‘आरोहन’ने मानसिक धीर दिला. पैसे परत करण्याची काही गरज नाही असे सांगून ‘आरोहन’ तुमच्या पाठीशी असल्याचा विश्वास दिला. दरम्यानच्या काळात तो मध्यस्थही तेथे आला. त्याच्यावर आरोहनच्या कार्यकर्त्यांनी प्रश्नांची सरबती करून तो करीत असलेले काम किती समाजविघातक व बेकायदेशीर आहे, याची कडक समज दिली व यापुढे मुलीकडे किंवा तिच्या नातेवाईकांकडे परत पैशांची मागणी केल्यास कायदेशीर कारवाई करण्याचा इशारा दिला. मध्यस्थाने पुन्हा पैसे मागणार नसल्याचे सर्वांसमोर मान्य केले. येथे एका अल्पवयीन मुलीचे जबरदस्तीने लग्न लावून देण्याचा कट उधळला गेला. तात्पुरता हा प्रश्न मिटल्याचे समाधान वाटले. परंतु वरवर दिसणारी लग्नाची ही घटना फक्त लाग्नापुरती मर्यादित नसून यामागे लग्नाच्या नावाखाली आदिवासी मुलींची विक्री / तस्करी करणारी टोळी किंवा व्यक्ती कार्यरत असावी असा संशय येण्यास पुरेसा वाव असल्याचे लक्षात आले. कारण अशाप्रकारच्या अनेक घटना या भागात घडल्या असल्याचे विविध लोकांकडून कळले.   

अधिक माहिती घेतली असता दरवर्षी जव्हार-मोखाडा या भागातील अनेक आदिवासी मुली बेपत्ता  झाल्याची दबक्या आवाजातील चर्चा ऐकावयास मिळाली. या घटना पुढे येत नाहीत कारण या भागातील आदिवासींची अतिशय दारुण आर्थिक परिस्थिती, अज्ञान व व्यसनाधीनता असल्याने मुलींचे पालक थोड्या पैशाच्या अमिषाला  बळी पडून अशा प्रकारचे व्यवहार करीत असल्याचे बोलले जाते. प्रकरण उघडकीस आले किंवा कोणी विरोध केला तर पालक  संबंधित गुन्हेगाराच्या बाजूने उभे राहतात. याहूनही सुन्न करणारी  बाब म्हणजे, अशाप्रकारच्या असाहाय्य व गरीब मुलींना शोधून त्यांच्या लग्नाचे सौदे करणारे मध्यस्थ दलाल हे इथल्याच समाजातील व परिसरातील आहेत. अर्थात त्यांचीही गरिबीची परिस्थिती असल्याने त्यांचाही अशा कामासाठी वापर करून घेतला जातो हे त्यांच्याही लक्षात येत नाही. त्यामुळे कोणी तक्रार करण्याचा प्रश्न उद्भवत नाही. परिणामी या भयाण वास्तवाची जाहीर वाच्यता किंवा नोंद कुठेही होत नाही. स्वातंत्र्याच्या ७५ वर्षानंतरही आदिवासींना केवळ आर्थिक परिस्थितीमुळे आपल्या मुलींचे असे सौदे करावे लागत असतील आणि उमलण्याआधीच अशा कळ्या कुस्करल्या जात असतील तर आपण कोणत्या स्वातंत्र्यात राहतो ? याचा अंतर्मुख होवून विचार करण्याची व  शीघ्र कृती करण्याची वेळ आली आहे असे प्रकर्षाने वाटते.    

-प्रदीप खैरकर
आरोहन

आरोहन बद्दल बोलताना संस्थेचे विश्वस्त

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Aroehan Trustee

Speaking About Aroehan Work

Posted by Rashtra Seva Dal on Wednesday, Auguast 20, 2020

Aroehan’s Relief Work during the CoViD -19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm but has at least helped the countries and states to revisit their health systems and health care delivery.

The 21-day lockdown which has been extended till the 31st of August recently, announced by the Prime Minister on the 23rd of March had multiple effects on the community at large. It .has affected the most vulnerable of the tribal group – the Katkaris, some widows who are staying alone in far to reach hamlets and the seasonal migrants and their families from other blocks and districts in the State. The worst hit, of course, are the migrants and small scale industrial labour who leave their home town and enter other cities/villages in search of menial jobs. As the companies and brick kilns were shut down and their owners stranded in the cities, the migrant population had been left in the lurch with nowhere to go, no money and lack of basic necessities like food and water.

AROEHAN as a team has always strived to help the most vulnerable tribals in the various blocks of its implementation. The team was able to identify many such individuals and families in the villages and hamlets of Palghar and Mokhada Block in Palghar district through reliable sources and we decided to help them with dry ration and hygiene essentials.

There had also been requests for hygiene/ protective consumables (mask, sanitizer, gloves) from the PHCs as well as the front-line workers of Palghar, Jawhar and Mokhada block.

Summary of the relief work undertaken:

We could provide dry ration kits and hygiene essentials to 3042 migrant BPL families in Palghar, Dahanu and Mokhada blocks of Palghar district with the funds received from various individual donors as well as Corporate.

We have also been able to provide surgical masks and hygiene kits to health personnel, ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers and police administration in Jawhar and Mokhada blocks with support from our corporate donors. They were provided with 3552 bottles of hand sanitisers, 3520 cloth masks, 3200 surgical masks and 4850 pairs of hand gloves. 22 Pulse Oximeters have been provided to the Medical Officers and ASHAs at Mokhada and Palghar resp.

Each family was given a ration kit consisting of the following items:
• 5 kg of Rice
• 2 kg of Dal
• 1 litre oil
• ½ kg spices and salt
• ½ kg sugar and tea
• Soap bars

The Sarpanch and the local volunteers along with some villagers helped identify the settlements of the migrant families. The dry ration was picked up from the grocery stores who were permitted to remain open for supplies at the Taluka place.

A tempo was hired for transport and our staff also used their own vehicles to transport the goods to the respective villages.

All the precautionary methods like hygiene, social distancing were maintained and a list of beneficiaries made for our records.

A considerable population is still left out in small pockets in various hamlets in and around Palghar, Mokhada and Dahanu block. We are still carrying out the good work of providing dry ration in these areas. Along with this messages on hygiene, hand wash, social distancing and respiratory etiquette are also conveyed by our field workers to the group.

The Furthest Distance To Travel For Helping Adivasis

Moving from a commercial organisation (where I worked for thirty-seven years) to an NGO is like getting down from a car and go for a trekking.

 You see the road, the trees and even the people start looking different to you. Because you look at people and surrounding with new eyes, as they say. Each visit to Mokhada brings this message to me.

“Leave your car at the hotel. Let us travel together in this Ertiga,” Dr Shubalakshmi, COO of Aroehan said. Sedans are the not the best vehicles for driving to villages in Mokhada. I hopped in, so did Aroehan’s project managers. It was a long serpentine road up and down the hills after we exited the highway.

Women assembled for meeting
Women assembled for meeting

We reached a hamlet. A group of Adivasi women were assembled by Meenakshi and Sarita to meet us. A smaller group of men also joined them. Sulabha, my wife, Dr Shuba (during the travel from Jawhar to Mokhada I had become familiar enough to address her as Shuba) and I sat down with them.

“I am Rajendra Shankar Palve,” a young man moved forward and introduced himself. He picked up a file and scanned through the papers to pick up one to show me, but I stopped him.

Rajendra Palve
Rajendra Palve

“Wait, I said. I am going to record your video. Is that okay?” I took out my selfie stick, placed my mobile on it, fixed a collar mike and hooked it to his collar. My addressing him in Marathi must have made him more comfortable, I guessed.

“Not a problem” he replied as he gave a broad smile, adjusting the collar mike. He was excited to face the camera. “I am a member of the pada (hamlet) samiti.” He picked up his papers from the file. “Let me tell you the projects pada samiti has followed up with Government Offices.” He explained various issues, beginning with the ‘Bus problem’. State Transport buses had started plying to their pada, but heavy rains washed out the road during the last monsoon. There was no place where the bus could turn around, so the service was stopped. It was yet to be resumed although he had represented the problem before the State Transport authorities.

Rajendra also spoke of the PHC (Primary Health care Centre) which was sanctioned in 1994 but is yet to be established.

“What happens in the monsoon when you can’t cross the Pinjal river and your village is cut off from Pethecha pada?”

“Do you see that hill behind you? We have to climb up the hill and reach a village called ‘Kevnale.’ We then negotiate charges for a vehicle to take the patient to the PHC. All this takes about four hours. Sometimes the sick person dies on the way.”

That left me speechless. I was left to imagine the hardship of Adivasi villagers in this hamlet.

Our discussion then shifted to the Electricity supply. The Electricity poles had fallen or bent. That resulted in intermittent electricity supply. One woman said that a person had died, I guess he was electrocuted as a result of the unrepaired electric poles. Apparently the MSEB officials responded to Rajendra and his pada samiti’s appeal and it was repaired.

Governance is a difficult area to work on. Aroehan has obviously made an impact. The essence of governance is that the villagers must decide on the issues confronting them, and solve their problems.

Seeta (in blue saree) speaks about impact of Aroehan's work. Sarita to her right
Seeta (in blue saree) speaks about impact of Aroehan’s work. Sarita to her right

“Seeta wants to speak” Sarita from Aroehan’s project team said. Seeta in a light blue saree stood out in the group of village women. “She was illiterate but has learnt to sign, she takes initiative to find solutions to the problems. She is the treasurer of the pada samiti. Talk about women’s issues,” Sarita said. Seeta cringed. She drew courage and explained how pregnant women now go for scan, ensure inoculation, thanks to Aroehan. Seeta was happy that she was playing a role in alleviating the problems of her hamlet. She was so excited, she invited Aroehan team for a cup of tea at her home!

Paper Plates Making Machine
Paper Plates Making Machine

This is the ground reality in the twenty-first century! This was a different world, I thought. Seeta, Sarita and Meenakshi showed us a machine for making paper plates. And a grinding machine which can give them rice flour and masalas. They demonstrated their operation to me. These could be some sources of additional income, they said.

Grinding Machine
Grinding Machine

I was uncomfortable. Much more was needed to be done to provide better living conditions, education and the list would be long. The problem was huge, almost insurmountable. But somehow it had to be confronted with determination and skill.

“Malnutrition deaths, low literacy rate and education levels, water scarcity, migration of tribal to the city in search of jobs are all interconnected problems,” Anjali once told me, “You can’t work on only one problem, a comprehensive, integrated approach to development is required. And we have to put more money in the hands of the villagers to address the poverty and related issues. That’s the most effective approach. And it’s not easy.”

As I got in the Ertiga again, the words of my friend came haunting me: “Educated and the well-to-do people from cities have only ‘anthropological interest’ in the tribal community.” People have visited these villages clad in jeans, and a T-Shirt, carrying cameras. They have listened to their plight, visited their villages, photographed them all to quench their curiosity, but the involvement for active contribution was never forthcoming.

Lisa Ray tells a story in her autobiography. A stranger spoke to her, he told his heart-rending life story. He thanked her for listening to him and said his gift to her would only be a riddle. ‘What’s the furthest a human can travel?’ His answer was, ‘from here’, as he drew a line from his temples to his heart, ‘to here.’

I hope I can travel it. I am going to.

Vivek S Patwardhan

आरोहनतर्फे आदिवासी समाजात जागतिक महिला दिन साजरा

आदिवासी समूह मुळातच कमी बोलणारा पण आताच्या सतत स्वतःला सिद्ध करावं लागण्याच्या काळात आयुष्य समानतापूर्वक, आदरयुक्त हवे असेल तर तुम्हांला बोलावेच लागेल तरच विविध प्रकारचे नेतृत्व करण्याची संधी मिळेल नाहीतर सतत विविध प्रकारच्या हिंसाचाराला, अन्यायाला सामोरे जावे लागेल असा सूर जागतिक महिला दिन साजरा करण्यासाठी ‘आरोहन’ने आयोजित केलेल्या सहा महिला आणि युवा सोबतच्या मेळाव्यात निघाला.

 

आरोहन ही नोंदणीकृत सामाजिक संस्था गेली १३ वर्षे पालघर मधील मोखाडा, जव्हार, डहाणू आणि पालघर या तालुक्यांमध्ये ‘कुपोषण समूळ नष्ट व्हावे’ यासाठी आरोग्य, शिक्षण, रोजगार, शेती, पाणी आणि सुप्रशासन हे विषय मध्यवर्ती ठेवून काम करीत आहे. मोखाड्या तालुक्यातील सुर्यमाल- केवनाळे, कुर्लोद, पाथर्डी- बोटोशी, आणि आसे ग्राम पंचायत तर जव्हार मधील कडाची मेट गांव आणि आयटीआय जव्हार या ठिकाणी विशेष लक्ष देवून सध्या महिला, मुल आणि युवा वर्गा बरोबर काम सुरु आहे.

‘बॅलन्स फॉर बेटर अर्थात – समानता असणारा, आनंदी समाज निर्माण होण्यासाठी जात,धर्म,लिंग इ. सर्व प्रकारचे संतुलन आवश्यक आहे’ ह्या संकल्पनेवर आधारित यावर्षीचा ‘जागतिक महिला दिन’ सहा ठिकाणी साजरा करण्यात आला. बोटोशी येथील भोसपाडा, आसे येथील ब्राह्मण गांव, कुर्लोद, सूर्यमाळ, कडाची मेट आणि आयटीआय जव्हार येथे मोठ्या जल्लोषात महिला दिन साजरा करण्यात आलेल्या ह्या मेळाव्यात जव्हार आगारच्या व्यवस्थापिका सरिता बागल, माधुरी मुकणे, सरिता चौधरी, प्रतिभा भोये, अॅड कल्याणी मुकणे, मीनाक्षी खिरारी आणि लीला दळवी यांनी आजची स्त्रियांची सामाजिक-आर्थिक आणि राजकीय स्थिती मांडली आणि आपापल्या क्षेत्रात आदरपूर्वक स्वतःचे स्थान मिळवण्यासाठी प्रत्यक्ष त्या स्त्रीच्या तसेच समाजातील इतर घटकांच्याही मानसिकतेत बदल व्हायला हवा, हे बदल कसे घडवावेत हे दाखवण्यासाठी स्वतःच्या अनुभवांची मांडणी ह्या मेळाव्यातून करण्यात्त आली. सूर्यमाळ येथे ग्राम पंचायत आणि डॉन बॉस्को संस्थेबरोबर तर ब्राम्हण गांव येथे ‘साथी’ संस्थेबरोबर या मेळाव्यांचे आयोजन करण्यात आले होते.

यासर्व मेळाव्यामध्ये त्या त्या गावातील स्त्रिया, युवती, युवा मोठ्या प्रमाणात सहभागी झाले होते. कडाची मेट येथील मेळाव्यात गावातील स्त्रियांनी रान भाज्यांपासून विविध प्रदार्थ बनवून प्रदर्शन केले. मासिक पाळी आणि त्यासंदर्भात असलेले गैरसमज समजावून घेण्यासाठी ‘पॅड मॅन’ सिनेमा एकत्रित बघितला. महिला दिन हा सर्वांच्या आनंदाचा दिवस असायला हवा आणि महिला सक्षमीकरणावर फक्त भाष्य न करता आपल्या कृतीत तो विचार उतरला पाहिजे अशी भूमिका सर्व वक्त्यांनी मांडली आणि शेवटी सर्व आदिवासी महिलांनी आणि युवानी आपला पारंपारिक ‘तारपा नृत्य’ सदर केले.