It's not often that half an hour after you have spoken about the legal age of marriage and the need for consent etc. a girl from 9th std. walks up to you to say-"Akka-my parents are looking out for a groom for me. They want to marry me off after 10th std. I want to become a doctor.Please come and talk to them ...please.." All this is in very cute Tamil. Just as I am wondering what exactly I could tell her, another one shyly walks up and says- "You talked about boys teasing us on the road and misbehaving with us. But if I talk to anyone about it or complain, they will only tell me not to go out after dark and scream at me for not wearing my dupatta properly.I would rather suffer that as opposed to being made to stay at home...what should I do?". A third one says "My mother's sister has been abandoned by her husband and he has married another woman. Everytime the 2nd wife goes out of town, he comes in the night and harrasses my aunt to sleep with him.Should I file a police complaint?".
I give them all some answer. Tell the 1st one that she should try explaining things to other elders in the family who might be in support of her and if things still don't work out, we will think about further course of action. Tell the 2nd one that -Yes- it is unfortunate and it happens to me too several times. But its important not to feel guilty about it and feel that its her fault and there will be people who will understand and a group of them together should complain about the boys atleast to the school principal for starters. Tell the 3rd one that she should file a complaint in this case, but that she should not go alone to the police station and that she should take some adult with her etc. etc.
Now for the teachers in the school. They tell us that these sudents were extremely interested in our Legal Literacy Programme only because its all very much like what happens in their homes everyday.One of them chuckles saying "how much ever you tell them about eve teasing, all that they do is to go and flirt with those boys down the street every evening- what more do you expect of the girls from the slum?"
This is just one more of those many days- where an LLP just brings you back to the real world. A world where lots of things actually go wrong every day, where the law has a very big role to play-only if used and only if policemen were good and more importantly only if people KNEW of the law. Sometimes I feel terrible and helpless. But at the end of the day I tell myslef that if atleast 3 out of those 70 girls think all the rights they became aware of because of the LLP has SOME use in their life and attempt to fight for it, it was worth all the effort.