Real stories - Maya (name changed)

Maya belongs to the dalit community, who are the “untouchables.” Her mother died of cancer when she was 5 yrs old and her father died from TB two years later. She was brought to her maternal uncle's house. At the age of 13, she was married to an orphan. After a year, she gave birth to a baby girl.

For the first few years, her marital life went well. It did not last, however, as her husband began having an affair with another girl and started beating her. He then brought his girlfriend home. Every night, he would beat Maya. Unable to bear this torture, she left her husband and took her daughter and went to stay with her uncle. Maya was 3 months pregnant. One day her husband came to her uncle's house and took her daughter away. She never saw her husband again.

Some years later, she received another marriage proposal. The prospective husbands’s family agreed to pay all the expenses and not to take any dowry. Maya remarried at the age of 19. She gave birth to her second child which was a son. She knew nothing about her husband’s past. Later she learnt that it was his fourth marriage and that he had a very violent temper. He used to torture his wives. For Maya, it was no different. He started abusing her physically and mentally. She was not even given enough food and he subjected her to electric shocks. She tolerated this believing that he would change one day.

When she became  pregnant, his behaviour worsened. One morning when she was breastfeeding her child, he threw acid on her. Fortunately, a local human rights defender came to know about the incident and with the support from local NGOs Maya was rushed to the district hospital. They were unable to treat her there,so the doctors referred her to Kathmandu for further treatment.  Her in-laws would not take her to Kathmandu and kept her at home. The local human rights defender and the local NGOs intervened and Maya was taken by ambulance to the Bir Hospital, in Kathmandu.

Her husband was arrested and placed in police custody. Although he was released on bail, a case was filed at the District Court.

Following her treatment at the Bir Hospital, Maya along with her 18-month-old son was taken to Saathi Women Shelter. She is doing remarkably well. Her mother-in-law is insisting Saathi send Maya back but she is not willing to go.Maya was worried about her daughter from her first husband who is living in the village. Saathi is working with the Human Rights defender to bring her daughter to its Girls Hostel where she will be looked after and provided with a formal education.