When my mother got married, she wasn’t happy. My father was violent from the start. Things got worse when my twin sisters were born. My father’s family didn’t like the girl child, so the family was in trauma over their gender. My mother and father tried two or three times for a boy. On one occasion, they miscarried.
When my mother found she was going to give birth to me, she called her sister, begging for help. She believed my dad’s family would kill her if they found out she was expecting a girl. Eventually, they seemed to accept it. But, from then onwards, every time my father came home he’d beat my mother, shout at her and stop her from eating.
At first he was just violent towards to my mother. Then, he turned to my twin sisters and I. That's when my mother decided to leave him. I was just seven.
Starting from scratch
We moved to Delhi and started from scratch. My mother had nothing, so we all lived in one room. Gradually, we had two rooms, then three and now we have a whole flat. We are so happy. My mum is so inspiring and that's why she wanted all three of us to get an education to a good level. She always told us: ‘Don’t rely on anyone!’
My mama is retired now, but she runs her own NGO, ZeStreet, which empowers women and supports them to find employment. She taught me you should never place boundaries on your dreams. If I want two things, but I only have money for one, I should work until I can afford both.
My twin sisters, Urvi and Chhavi, are also very inspiring – because they are always right! If I ask for advice, they always guide me positively. In fact, it was my sister Chavvi who introduced me to Voices Against Violence, a non-formal education curriculum created by UN Women and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, that gives girls and boys the tools to speak out against violence.
As a Girl Guide leader, I share the curriculum with other Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from across India – a Movement I am proud to be part of. There are many girls who are alone but Girl Guiding provides support and helps you believe in yourself.
I also train girls who aren’t part of the Movement. We recently partnered with SoS Village, which works with girls who have experienced violence and escaped. I trained 40 girls on Voices Against Violence and I’ve seen a positive change in those who attended.
I remember one girl who was larger than the others. She was quiet at first and the other girls would bully her. As we gave out bananas, some of the girls said: ‘You should take two because you eat a lot.’ She didn’t say anything. A few days later, the same thing happened again. This time, the girl replied: “Why should I take two? I only want one! It doesn't matter if I'm fat or not!’ It was good to see her stand up for herself and fight for her rights."
I can see the power Voices Against Violence has – for me, too! When I was younger, I wanted to take up archery. It was my mother that encouraged me to do adventure sports when no one else did. Now I'm a national archery player and I am still able to apply the curriculum here, too.
Recently I was participating in a national selection camp for archery. Another girl and I scored the same, but she was declared winner. I spoke up and explained what I had scored. They wouldn't listen but I persisted, showing them my scorecard until they realised they were wrong. Speaking out for yourself is good, otherwise you will be suppressed by everyone. Voices against Violence has encouraged me to speak out for my rights now and I want to ensure other young people do the same!