Stories of Change


Justice for Jaya

Jaya Kanji, 33-years-old, approached CVWC in an acute state of crisis, as her mother-in-law was not ready to keep her in the house. Jaya’s husband, an alcoholic, had passed away a year ago after 9 years of marriage. They have a 7-year-old son. She and her husband were living separately, but a year before her husband passed away her mother-in-law brought her ailing son to her house to nurse him. She was not ready to take Jaya, since she was disappointed that Jaya did not give a sufficient dowry. The husband anyhow convinced Jaya that gradually he would impress upon his mother to bring Jaya home.

Jaya was already under a lot of stress living and managing on her own without her husband and she realized that her mother-in-law was not nursing her son properly as his condition deteriorated. It was Jaya who took him to the hospital and provided for his treatment. But it was too late and he died.

After the husband’s death her mother in-law, due to pressure from other community people, had to accept Jaya in her house. Her mother in-law subjected Jaya to psychological abuse and made her feel responsible for her husband’s death. Her sister in-law supported the abuse. The mother in-law stopped eating food made by Jaya, derided her for getting dressed well, and going to work. Jaya was seen as a characterless woman to both of them. She continued to live in such a situation, but one day her mother in-law decided to sell the house and went to live with her daughter. Jaya’s life crumbled as she had nowhere to go and nobody to help her. She was extremely depressed and wanted to end her life along with her son in order to exonerate herself form this agony.

A community woman informed her about CVWC’s work and brought her to the Centre. Jaya was provided emotional support and her problem was understood. Her consent was taken to call her mother in-law to the centre for negotiation. The mother-in-law refused to relent and negotiate about anything unless her daughter was in the picture. The next day a family meeting was carried out and it was decided that the mother in-law would not ask her to leave the house and Jaya will also cooperate and stay well. And in the future if the mother in-law sells the house Jaya will get her share.

That same evening her mother-in-law went against the agreement by dragging her to another community based organization under the pretext of taking her to some common relative. In that meeting it was decided that the mother in-law will immediately sell the house that was to be sold for Rs.2 lakhs and Jaya would get her share of Rs. 50,000. She was forcefully made to sign a paper prepared by the representative of the other organization. The next day Jaya came and reported everything to the Centre. Jaya requested one of the workers to be present when they give her the money. In the mean time the mothering-law sold the house and Jaya was rendered homeless. She had to go and stay with her sister in a very small room for sometime. Jaya and the Centre staff kept on waiting for the meeting to happen and following up on the same. After pressure was added, finally the last settlement meeting was arranged and Jaya was given only Rs. 32,000. The NGO stated that Rs. 18,000 was their charges for carrying out the settlement. Jaya did not agree to that and asked for her entire share as decided. The NGO representatives were not willing to listen to her.

Jaya was then shown the way to file a police complaint in order to retrieve the whole amount. The Centre’s staff helped her to file a complaint in the police station. The entire situation was explained and then it was decided to confront the NGO representatives. Finally, the Centre managed to give Jaya justice and her share of money. Jaya moved to another house with her son and the Centre also helped her to look for a permanent job. She is presently working and continues to stay in touch with the Centre and participate in its different programs.