Ill-treated by husband for not birthing a boy, free ration would mean not worrying about feeding her daughters
A mother of two daughters in Kalandar Basti in Tonk, Rajasthan is grappling with formalities to receive her due welfare under the Public Distribution System (PDS). Left to fend for herself and the kids for not birthing sons, the woman is now running pillar to post to avail free rations.
Mehrunisha has been trying to seek the benefits of free food grains from the Rajasthan state government from 2018. Her village is about 110 kilometres away from the state capital Jaipur.
Her alcoholic husband stopped working around five years ago. Other than putting the burden of financial responsibility on her, he also physically abuses her, she said.
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Her only fault? Not giving birth to a boy. “Things went south right after I had my second daughter in 2018. My in-laws and husband started ill-treating me and he stopped bringing home any money,” Mehrunisha told Down To Earth.
She had to find work immediately. “I took up Aari Tari, a traditional handwork of Rajasthan, to earn Rs 200 a day and feed a four-member family.
This was a tough decision for Mehrunisha, a Muslim woman who had to break parada (veil) to earn her bread. “I realised that there would be no food at home unless I started working,” she said.
Her elder daughter studies in Class III in a government school but has no money to buy study materials or afford a private school.
To add to her woes, she also has a tumour in her stomach. “I paid money to access medical treatment from the state government’s Chiranjeevi health scheme, which cost Rs 35,000. I still had to spend a few thousand for medication for which I borrowed money,” she said.
She has a blue ration card which classifies her as Above Poverty Line (APL), but her economic condition speaks otherwise. The PDS assistance would make a world of difference for her.
According to the National Food Security Act (NFSA), she can only buy food at subsidised rates. “We need to be classified in a fresh category of at least poor,” she said.
“We have never received free food grains since we got married and my husband procured a fresh ration card. Since he stopped bringing food home, the situation has worsened,” she said.
Mehrunisha has attempted to get a revised ration card and access to free food grains several times but failed.
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“They asked me to procure a Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act job card. It took me two years to get the required documents and exhausting follow-up trips for the job card,” she said.
But she has still not been able to access the free ration.
“I need to desperately get out of poverty for the sake of my daughters and access to ration can bring a huge difference,” she said.
“I want to be able to save some money for the kids’ higher education and hopefully give them a better life. There are many customs, such as child marriage, which are often forced by family members due to poverty. I want to avoid that,” she added.
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