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Papo (33), wife and mother of 7 children, married at the age of 10, no formal education whatsoever.

Her husband is an illiterate, heavy drinking alcoholic and he has got no job. Here is her story:

  1. How do you manage to provide for this family, when you are the only one working?
    I sell a dish made out of rice and meat in the market, and from this I make approximately 3000-4000 rupees a month. This wouldn't have been  enough for 7 children, my husband and myself in the first place, and with my husband drinking and snatching money from me, it's really difficult for me.

    As a second income, my two daughters (Fairdos and Karaishma) cleans houses before they go to school in the morning. From this Fairdos earns 300 rupees and Karaishma 150. This helps, but I'm still not really able to provide my family.

  2. Has your husband's drinking caused you any major problems?
    He takes a lot of money from me, and he doesn't care if his children won't get their education - I have 7 children, and I know that none of them will finish 10th standard. Because of this I have to borrow money from the others in the colony to buy the ingredients that I need to make a living. The ingredients cost me 400 rupees a day, I earn 600 on the market which leaves me with 200 to spend on my children's education, food and my husband's liquor.

    Once, when were fighting again, my husband pored hot water on me. But maybe it wasn't on purpose, I hope it wasn't. He gets violent sometimes when he's drinking, and we have loud arguments. That's why the social network here is very important to me. If we fight, the neighbours always come, and they help me put an end to the argument.

  3. What can you do about your husband’s condition?
    There is nothing to do about it. After the accident with the hot water I went to the police, but they only said that it was none of their business that I needed to sort it out myself. It's not like I could get a divorce, because things are more complicated when I'm a Muslim. If I divorced my husband I would lose this house, and my family would reject me. I have lived my life, now the most important thing for me is my children.

  4. Is drinking in general a big problem here in Kathputli Nagar, and is there anything that can be done about it? Drinking in general is a big problem amongst the poor colonies such as Kathputli and Gautam Nagar. The roots to the drinking are many, the most normal reasons are bad company (your friends drink), and the possibility to escape from the reality. I'm willing to say that alcoholism is the most normal disease of them all. Apart from the fact that you have to be willing work with it yourself, little is being done - rather the opposite. Before every election they give free liquor to everyone so that we'll vote for them, and I think this is very wrong. If I could change it, I would.

  5. For how long have you been married to Gaffar, and when did his drinking problem start?
    Well, I got married when I was 10 years old (Gaffar was 16), and I moved in with him right away. Gaffar started drinking just days after, and has been drinking ever since. He used to be a painter, but he began drinking due to a friend of his.

  6. If you could have one thing that would make your life better, what would it be?
    I want the BPL card* and that loans should be more available. There should be some sort of regulation that says that the poor people should have lower interests than others - I don't like to borrow money from others.

  7. What are your dreams?
    My dream would be education for my children and a good marriage. I know that neither of this will happen because I won't be able to pay dowry for my daughters, and therefore they'll have to be married in a group marriage. In addition to this I don’t know for how long I can afford to let them stay at school, even if I know that it’s free of charge on government schools until 10th grade. I need them at home, school books and uniforms aren’t cheap either.

  8. Are you happy here, and would you be interested in some sort of women's organisation or self help group?
    I neither want nor need any self help group, because I know that as I said to you earlier, I've had my days, now all I want is the best for the children. And I'm happy here, but that's only because of the business.

    *BPL card is a card you get when you are below the poverty line. With this card you get a discount on all of the governmental shops and medical services are free of charge (except major operations).

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