When Geeta, who lives in the Indian state of Rajasthan, was unexpectedly widowed, her in-laws made her life so difficult that it was impossible for her to stay in the multi-generational home they shared.
Geeta is just one of an estimated 72 million women in India who are not married—nearly double the entire population of Canada. Most women are expected to marry and then live with their husband and his family. Unmarried women, even those who are widowed or divorced, are often seen as dishonourable. Like Geeta, their in-laws may abuse them physically, emotionally, or financially. Fortunately, Geeta was able to flee to her parents’ home with her two younger children, but many parents will not take back their newly single daughters.
While Geeta and her younger children stayed with her parents, her in-laws stole her jewellery, changed the locks, and kept her two older children from her. At this point, she contacted Mission and Service partner Astha Sansthan’s Association of Strong Women Alone (ASWA) to ask for their help.
Geeta’s in-laws had filed a false police report against her that said she abandoned her older children. ASWA helped her to advocate for herself at the police station. Once the police understood her case, Geeta’s in-laws were made to give back her jewellery, unlock her home, and return her older children to her care. Today, she is living peacefully with her children in her portion of the house.
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