Anjuman (19), a first-year commerce student has been with Apnalaya for around seven years. She joined as a Khula Aasmaan Kabaddi athlete and is now a School Saheli mentor and a Prevention of Violence against Women & Children (PVWC) volunteer. “Initially it was very difficult to convince my family to let me go play Kabaddi because I’m a girl and people in the neighbourhood used to say that girls shouldn’t play sports. I had to eventually force my brother to come with me during one of our sessions for him to see it was safe,” said Anjuman.
The access to open spaces is limited to a few privileged people, largely men. The young girls of Shivaji Nagar, Govandi, have always had the odds stacked against them with gender and social norms restricting their education, their movement, their attire and every aspect of their lives.
As an active volunteer of PVWC, in December, she came across a case in Shivaji Nagar where a man molested an 11-year-old girl and the family and neighbors were too scared to file a report. “I came to know about this case only at night after which I went there and informed everyone about The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and how it works, I convinced them to report the case to the police,” she said. “After the case was reported, the child’s mother faced a lot of difficulties as the man’s family would constantly come and bribe her with money stating that they would send the man to the village, but I told her that if she doesn’t do this now he may go to the village and do the same with many other girls,” said Anjuman. The man is now in jail. In Police Zone VI of the East region of Mumbai, where Shivaji Nagar falls, the number of POCSO cases is maximum.
Anjuman also mentors 10 girls as a part of our School Saheli cluster scholarship programme, where a group of 10 girls, led by a mentor, are provided with monthly fellowships on the condition that there are zero drop-outs. After finishing her bachelors in Commerce, Anjuman eventually wants to study Human Resources