Stories of Nepal: My Daughter
Monday, August 27, 2018
We have partnered with our brilliant friend Jay from Stories of Nepal to tell the stories of individuals at Kopila Valley and in the surrounding communities. As part of our series, Jay is highlighting the strength and perseverance of women and girls in Nepal. In case you missed any of his earlier posts, you can find them here.
"She must have been 5 months old. I had hidden a few hundred rupees that my brother had left for me, out of pity, seeing the way I was living in my husbands home with my infant daughter. I had tied the money in a knot in a cloth that I used to wrap her. The next morning my father in law pulled me violently by my locks to the front porch and beat me in front of my husband who stood there mute. He took away the money and left me scattered and helpless. This was not an isolated incident. Every day, the beatings got worse and every day I made sure my infant was not hurt. I had nowhere to go. My husband was no support either. He had denounced me as his wife and his only daughter. He never agreed to register himself as the father. I have no paper that documents my marriage with him and no paper that can certify my daughter's birth, only because the father is unwilling.
My parents' house was not mine anymore. They had given me away, you see. In my husband's house, I kept my mouth shut, cried my heart out while everyone was asleep and did what I was told to do. There was no food for me or my baby. The neighbors would see my sorry state and invite me and I would feed my daughter. One day my father in law chased me into the jungle, brandishing his khukuri while I ran to save my life with my baby clutched against my chest. My daughter was about to turn two then. The next day, when there was nobody around I packed up whatever clothing I had, tied my daughter behind my back and ran away from that hell. I came to this town and met a distant relative who let me stay at his place. I started breaking stones and working on the roads. I had to feed my daughter. Even though life is still difficult for a single mother, I do not have to return home fearful. I can just focus on providing for my daughter. Recently, the school that my daughter goes to has been asking for my daughter's birth certificate and I have been making excuses. Her father is dead to me, but I am a woman and in this country, your daughter isn't yours until your husband says so."
*Update from Stories of Nepal: Thank you all for the messages. At this time, our first priority is to connect her with the right legal expert who can help her receive a birth certificate for her daughter. I have spoken to a few experts who deal with such issues on a regular basis and are also from the area to assist her. I have also reached out to a few people in Kathmandu who pioneer the "Citizenship in the Name of The Mother" movement for advice concerning Bahini's (Nepali word for "younger sister") situation and what can be done at the earliest. Once I have something, I will update you on this. I appreciate all your concerns and words of support for Bahini.