Magazine article New Internationalist

Keeping Prerna

Magazine article New Internationalist

Keeping Prerna

Article excerpt

Draped in a yellow, blue and magenta sari, hands full of bangles, Kajri is busy cuddling her four-month-old daughter, Prerna.

'I have named her Prerna, meaning inspiration in Hindi, because she gave my life a new meaning,' she says confidently as she begins to narrate her story.

Kajri is 25 years old. She was born and brought up in a slum in India's sprawling capital city, Delhi. Unlike many her age, she got an opportunity to study until class seven. 'Though limited in resources, my parents made sure that my two siblings and I went to school. Circumstances forced us to drop out,' she adds, 'but the education that I got then helped me fight a battle for my rights now.'

Last year Kajri got married. 'I had a gala wedding, a wedding hardly anyone in our community can imagine. I moved to a village some 200 kilometres from Delhi, but the dream soon came crashing down.'

Once young women are married, she explains, they are expected to have a baby.

'My husband was understanding at first. He made sure we got to know each other. I got pregnant in May 2012 and I felt out of this world. But then, on a visit to the doctor, I was told that I needed to abort as the child was dead. I trusted my husband and without question, I complied. This was repeated the second time I got pregnant. I was perplexed as to why this had happened again. So I decided to visit the doctor alone.'

Kajri speaks with tears in her eyes: 'The doctor was surprised at my question. She said I couldn't have wanted the child, because I willingly aborted it both times, although the child was absolutely all right.'

Kajri was angry and rushed home to her husband, wanting answers. 'My husband was annoyed at my audacity to question him. He picked up a bamboo stick and I was beaten mercilessly.'

Things settled down again and Kajri adjusted to the situation. Going back to live with her parents was not an option. …

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