I usually watch a show that appears on NatGeo at 11 p.m. weekdays-Taboo. The show deals with subjects, which appear to be taboo in the society and the reason why they occur. It also meanders around the idea of having social acceptability by bringing these subjects to the knowledge of the general public. An analysis is done on the behavior patterns and it ideates upon the way how in spite of being in the realm of the society they are frowned upon. It also highlights people who work to get the taboo become a part of the mainstream.
On one of the episodes, the life of the nomadic tribe of Wadia in Gujrat, India got featured. This particular village is famous for flesh trade and has women getting into the human trafficking from generations. That is how the culture of the village has been since time immemorial. The men in the village sell and the women get sold. Now, understanding the whole effect of such a society was difficult for me considering I have never, personally, got in touch with anyone even remotely connected with such a story. As the show progressed, the pain behind those affected lives started seeping into my body and resulted in goosebumps. My heart sank.
Now, it may very simply be another nomadic tribe that may comfortably be called ‘Vichitra’ (strange) but the whole idea that crores of people were still living an undignified, unidentified life was rather shocking than strange. Imagine a case where the brothers and fathers trafficking their sisters and daughters for money. It gives me shivers, just considering. Fortunately (for me), the plot of the show moved to a ray of hope. The story described how a woman, who got in touch with these tribes after her mass communication degree, got so involved in the upliftment of this tribe, that she took it upon herself to provide the women in the village, a life of self-respect and the men, a reason to earn. This woman, Mittal Patel, is a sole crusader to provide a face to this tribe and help them learn to get a life (quite literally) in a free country.
With the help of the local authorities, she helped 20,000 people in getting voter id cards so that they can legally prove their identity as a citizen of the country and not just live a nameless existence. An organization by the name of VSSM (Vichitra Samuday Samarthan Manch) was made which reaches 9 districts in the state and works with 22,000 families. 26 alternate schools were opened up which enrolled over 1000 children. Imagine how much the little lives would benefit from this light. The organization has worked massively in creating a reason for people in the area to live a normal life under ‘human’ conditions.
|Mass Wedding in progress|
My heart was overwhelmed to see how this organization has helped get 8 girls married and 12 girls engaged in the village; since a girl once engaged or married is not thrown into the business of prostitution. This community marriage was a great step to break the age-old tradition and give a breath of life to all those women who did not even know that they were leading a regressed life. It was not easy to deal with the threat of the people who would eventually be affected by the shutdown of their flesh trade business, but the mass marriage was carried out, nevertheless, with the help of the local authorities. This was a leap to the next stage of getting the women live a life of dignity and their children education for a better future.
Mittal Patel has been working to get the voice of these nomads heard by the government for the last six years and her voice needs to be heard. She is a hero in real terms. A big salute to the woman’s grit and determination in working for the upliftment of the men and women of the tribes.
Here is a video of her seminar at TedxGateway Mumbai, which will inspire you with her story.
Franklin Templeton Investmentspartnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.
This post is an entry to the Indiblogger-Franklin Templeton Investments’ The Idea Caravan Initiative
Also linking this to the Ultimate Blog Challenge, July 2013
Image Courtesy : Google.