Lalthanzami at the award ceremony
This is the kind of progress that lift our spirits high and gives us reason to work harder and support our fellows so that they to reach their goal with gusto.
Women, often viewed as feeble and born to be suppressed, undergo brutalities in the hands of those who have so called power. But in contrast to this, there are women like Lalthanzami, who have been fearlessly fighting and providing shelter to the victims of domestic violence and abuse. Lalthanzami, also known more as the lady who runs the ‘The Safe Home', has received the Women Achievers award felicitated by FICCI-flo North East. The award was given by Mr. Tarun Gogoi (Chief Minister- Assam), who was also the chief guest at the award ceremony. Besides this, in the month of February, Lalthanzami was also appointed as the advisor for the Mizoram Labour Union, Zo Metriotic Front, and member of State Council for Child Welfare. These organisations are run by former beaurocrates, CBOs leaders and academicians. Lalthanzami feels that being part of these platforms, she will be in a stronger position to lobby and advocate for the victims of domestic violence and abuse.
Some of the developments in the recent months reflects her determination and fury of achieving what she believes in. A gang rape survivor was brought to ‘Safe Home’ in a state of complete shock and distress. One of the accused is the Church Pastor’s son who has a very influential network and connection with the higher authorities. The accused tried to influence the case for withdrawal, but their effort went wasted when with Lalthanzami's support the rape survivor refused to do so. While the case is taking its legal course, this woman concerned went through series of counseling at the ‘Safe Home’. In one of the interactions, she shared that being at the ‘Safe Home’ she felt secured and most importantly felt peace and calm in her mind. She was no longer frightened to walk alone. However, once she returned back home after staying in the 'Safe Home’ for a little while, one day Lalthanzami got a call from her during which she mentioned that someone broke into her house and threatened her. She was seeking help. But when the ‘Safe Home’ team arrived at her home for rescue, she was missing. There was no news of her for many weeks. Only in April, police was able to track her in another district. She was hiding there with her husband and had lost faith in the legal system and justice. This once again points out the danger faced by survivors of violence who decide to speak up.
Another case that kept Lalthanzami and her team busy was that of a well education 28 year old woman who finally decided to move out of an abusive relationship. In 2008 , after she completed her graduation from Delhi University, she married and started living in Shillong along with her husband. As young entrepreneurs, they both opened a hostel for young students in Shillong. In the year 2009, she conceived her first child. One fine day, her husband came drunk and ordered her to undress and show her private parts to all the boys living in the hostel. When she refused to fulfil his order, her husband abused her physically and declared that the child in her womb was definitely not his. This started a series of abuse which aggravated along with his addiction to alcohol. In 2011, their house owner asked them to vacate their house and shift the hostel as well. As they were not able to find a decent shelter to move in and also host 80-100 students, they decided to shut the hostel and move to Mizoram, their home state. The husband continued to drink and abuse her every night. He now also started using drugs (heroin). Now she has 3 children and finds it extremely difficult to manage home expenses. She cannot even work leaving her children at home. With no money in hand and more responsibilities, problems have increased between the couple. On the 13th of April, the husband came back home drunk and head straight to hit her. In order to save herself, she ran into the bedroom and locked herself along with her children. Since they were very noisy, their neighbour, who is also their church elder, came to their house. As the husband went to open the door, she called her sister and Lalthanzami for help and rescue. On her consent, an FIR (First Information Report) against the husband was filed that very day at the Bawngkawn police station. In the meanwhile she has moved to her brother’s house with her 3 kids.
A couple of outreach activities in the form of awareness camps were organized at the Canan Street, Mid Town, Vaivakawn Street and Government Complex in Aizwal. As part of legal and advocacy outreach, Lalthanzami visited the ministry and police for updates on the progress made in other reported cases. She was informed that charge sheet for two of her reported cases have been filed. During this month, the Mizoram Labour Association has come forward to provide their support for all labour related issues which emerge out of the violence and abuse cases. Lathanzami has welcomed their support and has requested the association to give equal pay for unskilled labors (both women and men) in Mizoram.
As of now there are 8 women and 5 of their children are living in the safe home. All the 5 children have received education sponsorship from local NGOs and individuals. The women and children have started a small kitchen garden in the coumpund. This is not just a nice way to destress, but the produce has also reduced the expenses of the kitchen. Another happy addition to the family was a television set, which was donated by a friend of the ‘Safe Home. With the new entertaining addition to the family, evenings now seem to be chirpy and buzzing.