I met her on an event. Rashmi Anand, the author and achiever wore a beautiful smile and was extremely graceful. Her eyes were sparkling and her voice so polite. I came to know she is a writer so went eagerly to talk to her. She gave me a warm smile and said “beta” which gave me a feeling as if I am actually talking to my own mother. I wondered what is as special about her as a writer and googled it. And when I read about her and her works, I was in deep shock and tears. I hugged my mom tightly and wondered how can a man do this with her wife? How did she get out of the intense mental and physical trauma and get back to contributing for the society.
Tortured and physically abused
She wore Chinese Collars and full sleeves at the peak of Delhi’s summers to hide bruises on her body. Bruises that ware inflicted by her husband who called her was called ugly and fat. Her husband was a lawyer who constantly made dowry demands on her. Her in-laws family even supported her husband and his demands. She was suppressed, harassed, tortured and beaten in every way physically, mentally and emotionally.
She kept silent as she could not understand where she will go with her daughter and face social pressures. She was not financially independent as well. But after 10 years of torture and continuous harassment, she finally left that house and her husband as she could not see her children suffering. Her daughter had become quite and withdrawn and her son had stopped speaking completely. At that time her daughter was 9 and son 5. She re-started her life at 35.
Now after so many years, her beautiful and cheerful self doesn’t show the grief she suffered in those ten violent years. She is now fighting oppression and distress with optimism that turns her story of pain and struggle to a journey of hope and success where she helps hundreds of women to revive. Recipient of CNN-IBN Zindagi Live award and Doordarshan’s Woman Achiever award of Aadhi Abaadi Baat Naari Ki, she is an inspiration to every woman who suffers and fights against domestic violence. She is now a counselor, writer and consultant. She also became the face of Delhi Police’s calendar in 2010. Woman’s Era talks to Rashmi Anand
Woman’s Era – Tell something about your Woman of the Elements Trust…how many years have you functioned and what are your key areas of operation ?
Rashmi Anand– My Woman of the Elements Trust has been functioning since almost three and half years now. I give free legal aid to women and child victims of violence who have earningsbelow Rs.5000 a month. Counseling is done for free across all earning capacities.
Having voluntarily counseled women over a period of 5 years at the Crime against women cell and at a personal level, I wanted to do something more concrete. It is all very good to give women hope – but to actually get out and give them the means to do it – that was the tough call.
I was also married to a lawyer. When I had left, my husband had threatened me “I will drag you through the courts for 20 years and then you will come crawling back to me.” I was lucky – I was helped by the Delhi Police – from the Crime against women cell – where I went later to give help – because I had received from there.
I had come from an affluent family – and though I did not get support from my father and my brother flatly who refused to let me back into my marital home, I sold off my gold to pay lawyers’ fees at that time. Other women are not so lucky. I wanted to work for those who have no access to law or to justice.
WE: Tell something about the current projects you are running?
Rashmi Anand : My Trust right now is doing only the current project of free legal aid/ counseling. We have already settled the lives of 70 women and their children – fighting their cases in court. Hundreds of women have been counseled in the course of these years.
WE: How do you counsel women who face domestic violence every day? Do you hold classes too?
R A :It is not easy. You cannot tell a woman what to do. She has to come to her own conclusions about the action that she wants to take. It is not for a counselor to judge or to lead her to a course of action. It is only the duty of a counselor to lead her to her own self – to her own mind.
I have seen in these years that most women actually know what they want to do. They actually come to counselors to reinforce their thought process.
For more of the interview # www.womansera.com/18518/its-features/women-are-neither-safe-inside-or-outside-homes