Geeta Mohan Puria
Geeta Mohanpuria was once a shy village girl, who would think twice to even step out from her house. Today she is hard-nosed fearless woman who chases news stories on her motorbike. This transformation did not happen in a day and her story says it all. Geeta comes from a poor family of daily wage labourers. She was married in her teens to a man who was very orthodox and did not consider her as an equal. Married life spiralled downhill for Geeta and her in-laws often subjected her to abuse. Over time, she gathered strength to take a stand and resist this regular physical torture. However, the pain did not stop there. Society branded Geeta as a ‘bad character’ for her inability to adjust to life with her in-laws. Furthermore, she was forced to agree to a ‘nata’ (an informal marriage without rights where money is exchanged between male relatives). Geeta decided to channel her anger at this injustice and take action for a better life. She worked hard, giving basic lessons to children and holding down a finance job in order to become more independent. During this time, she encountered an NGO- Mahila Jan Adhikar Samiti, which inspired her to fight against her in-laws. With the NGO’s support Geeta successfully recovered the dowry paid by her father and some of her pride. This was an exceptionally bold step for a girl of her background who grew up in a male dominated society. Since then, there has been no looking back. Today at 34 years, Geeta works with many women’s groups to help women like her suffering at the hands of their in-laws as well as challenging dowry deaths and domestic violence. She is unstoppable in her quest.
Today, Geeta is an inspiration to many rural women to fight against violent relationships. In collaboration with an NGO called Mahila Jan Adhikar Samiti, Geeta now works as a journalist, and runs a six page monthly newspaper called Khabra Ri Potli.
Quote- “Uneven hours of work, interacting with men about sensitive issues like violence against women, speaking out against the establishment, that doesn’t seem like a woman’s job to my neighbors. My family was fined Rs 20,000 by the panchayat for supporting me, but we refused to pay. Women are equal to men.”