At 23, Saroj happily got married to Ram Kishore Bhaisari of Ranipur village in Sehore in 2014. But after marriage, her life turned upside down as she was subjected to domestic violence every single day.
When Saroj was pregnant with her first child, her husband never took her to the doctor. Not even once. After nine and half months, the baby started rotting inside her, and neighbours, who heard her wails and screams, took her to a doctor. The child died, but she survived.
However, a year later Saroj was pregnant again. Ram Kishore forced her to take a sonography test and on finding it would be a girl, he tried to poison Saroj and kill the baby.
This time, she approached one Meera Bai who took her to the latter’s village Charkheda in Harda, where Saroj became the proud mother of a baby girl named Rounak.
However, Ram Kishore came to the village and attacked Saroj and tried to hang her.
This time Meera Bai took the bold step and filed a case against Ram.
Saroj’s is one of the many cases of domestic violence being dealt by Meera Bai, an icon in the village who has stopped 4 female feticide and at least 16 cases of domestic violence.
The 59-year-old woman, felicitated recently by the former women and child development minister Maya Singh, is an inspiration to many, and also heads the Shourya Dal, a community group which consists of 5 women members and 5 male members who are vocal, proactive and have come together with an objective of creating a women friendly environment in the society.
“I am illiterate and a mother of seven children. During my time, women had no say at all. But one thing I could never tolerate was a man beating a woman. I stood for the women of my village and will continue to do so,” Meera Bai recounted to HT.
“If I initially could have stood up for myself, then I would have planned my family and given good education to my children. Being a huge family we always remained poor financially,” she said.
Her daughter Rukmani (30) is also an active social activist. She describes her mother as “one of the strongest woman I have ever seen in the entire village. Our economic condition was not very sound, yet she stepped out and helped young girls come out and speak up, and not tolerate the atrocities of men.”
“She only inspired me to take up social work and today I am attached to an NGO and together with my team we have stopped more than 10 cases of domestic violence,” she told HT.
Rukmani recently helped a rape victim in Khirkiya town, to file an FIR and later, when she got pregnant, made arrangements to get government aids.