This lady don’t wear a veil and distribute sweets on every birth of a girl in the village in Haryana

November 5, 2014

Ghoonghat(veil) is a symbol of male dominance, and female subservience, more so in the Jat-dominated Haryana. But Neelam, the 31-year-old feisty sarpanch of Chappar village in Jind district, has been waging a determined and relentless battle to end this centuries-old tradition in a land where women dare not speak in front of the male members of their families. "After marriage, I was asked to keep a veil... it used to suffocate me... I couldn't even speak in front of my own family members... but no one understood," says Neelam. Initially, her family did not approve of her endeavor to get rid of the practice. Many in the village frowned, and complained against her. But she refused to back out, and eventually had her way. She now not only mingles with male members of her in-laws' family, villager elders and officers, but also calls her husband Sohan Lal by his first name. She couldn't have done all this without her husband's support, of course. "People would say your wife holds meetings and is seen without ghoonghat. You should keep her in control. But now I realise the importance. As sarpanch, she has done a lot for the village," says Neelam's proud husband. But spreading awareness in her village proved to be a more daunting task. She first launched a campaign to spread consciousness about women's rights and against social evils such as dowry and female foeticide, and gradually became the voice of women in her village. "Earlier, we didn't have a voice, even when I disagreed with some decisions of the house, I was supposed to just stay put behind the ghoonghat. I now participate and voice my opinion," points out Jyoti, a villager. Women do not wear a “ghoonghat” (veil) anymore. Villagers rejoice the birth of a girl child and make sure she attends school. All this was made possible by Neelam, sarpanch of a small village, Chappar, in Haryana. Watch this video to know more about her amazing story of change and success. Neelam became Sarpanch of Chappar village in Haryana because she wanted to see a positive change in the village. Today, in the state notorious for having the lowest girls ratio (877), Chappar villagers distribute sweets and welcome every newborn girl child. And, after so many years, women of this small village have started living without a ghoonghat (veil). She became an inspiration to all the women. They re-initiated their studies and became more confident and active in the village matters.

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