Striving for justice against all the odds
My name is Hina and I am from a far-flung village in Uttar Pradesh near the Nepal border. When I married at 20, I was training to be a paramedic. I hoped for a happy and long life with my husband. But my husband, Imtiyaz, had a doubtful character from the beginning. Though he presented himself as being well off, he never revealed his source of income to me. His greedy nature became known when he asked for a motorcycle as dowry. My mother did not acquiesce to this demand; instead, she provided me with gold and other valuables.
After marriage, we moved to Baiganwadi which is one of Mumbai’s oldest slums and hosts a large low-income population, who mostly belong to Muslim and Dalit communities. Following the expectations of a conservative Muslim woman, I tried every sort of compromise and accommodation to maintain my marriage. Over three years, I endured physical exploitation, economic extortion, physical and mental abuse. My husband manipulated me into selling off my dowry jewellery for money, saying he desperately needed to pay off the debts from our marriage expenses. All told, during our marriage, he demanded over 2,00,000 rupees from me. I had to give up my aspirations as a paramedic and work as domestic help instead. During this turmoil, I was blessed with a child, which I hoped would solve our problems. But my husband bluntly told me that me and the baby would only be allowed in his house if I had a boy. A girl would be neither welcome nor tolerated. After indeed giving birth to a baby girl, I knew I had to do something.