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Challenging cultural constraints: a personal testimony.

Authors
  • Clayton, L
Type
Published Article
Journal
Gender and development
Publication Date
Feb 01, 1995
Volume
3
Issue
1
Pages
25–29
Identifiers
PMID: 12159818
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

DISHA is one of the oldest Oxfam project partners in Uttar Pradesh, India. DISHA works with rural women and rope-makers; it encourages village-level women's organizations to fight against obstacles to women's empowerment and to institute income-producing activities; and it provides legal, educational, and health care services. In this article, a Muslim woman tells the story of her involvement with DISHA and how that involvement gave her the courage to reject the restrictions of purdah and of the wearing of the bourkha. This woman was married at age 13. She suffered ill treatment at the house of her in-laws and returned to her father's home with her 3 daughters. Her husband eventually joined her at her father's house. She was approached by a coordinator of DISHA and asked to apply for a job. She was offered the job, which she accepted. When she started going into the villages, she felt that the restrictive dress of the bourkha interfered with her ability to work. With the permission of her father and her husband, she set aside the bourkha. She had to endure criticism and censure for this action, but eventually people have been won over to her position as they have seen the positive results of her work on behalf of society. After having 5 daughters, she finally had a son. Now she is determined that her daughters will never wear the bourkha, even if they must remain single as a result of this resolve. She feels that DISHA has given her the power to overcome oppression in her own life, in the life of her family, and in society.

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