She quit her past life working on highways as a sex worker and decided to make her life rosy instead. Meet Rekha Bai, a woman belonging to the Banchhara community and living in Jaitpura village of Neemuch district in MP, who started cultivating flowers to eke out a living and send her daughter to school.
The 35-year-old woman’s efforts made even the commissioner and the collector come down to the village and appreciate her work.
She also earned a nickname ‘Phoolon Wali Aurat’ from the locals.
Many female members of Banchhara community are sex workers.
In Neemuch district, there are only 25 villages where a large chunk of the population belongs to the Banchhara community.
The 15,000-odd members of the community are spread over 70 deras (settlements) in Neemuch, Mandsaur and Ratlam districts.
Rekha Bai is one of the few woman who left everything inherited from her community and started farming on her land.
Demands for her flowers come from Neemuch, Mandsaur and Ujjain.
The self-employed woman says she earns more than Rs 50,000 in three months which has changed her life along with her daughter’s.
“I have decided to educate my daughter with the money which I will earn from selling flowers. I believe that my daughter will make me proud one day,” Rekha Bai said.
Commissioner of Ujjain division Ravindra Pastor said, “Rekha Bai has created an example for everyone. I visited her village and saw the cultivation of flowers. I have also instructed the horticulture department of Neemuch to make sure that her flowers are sold in Ujjain Simashta fair.”
Efforts of the younger generation to end this cruel practice have led to conflict with the elders but many have managed to break free. Many have left the profession, got education and some of them even have government jobs.