Bilaso – owner of six goats and future dreams



Now with the help from DanChurch Aid\’s partner Nari Surakha Samiti (NSS) in Orissa she has recently started a new life rearing goats. The animals was bought with money from financial aid received from the government.

A big hurdle

Entitlements and access to rights for Dalits, Adivasis (tribal), women and other vulnerable communities have been a long drawn struggle in India with many legislations and orders passed by the Government since Independence. Yet, accessing these rights and entitlements in a timely manner seems to stand forth as the biggest hurdles for vulnerable and marginalized masses. 37 years old Bilaso Naik is one who overcame this odd.

Abused by husband

A resident of the Dalit hamlet in the village of Bimal Beda in the Angul district of Orissa, Bilaso was a single mother at twenty two with two children after her partner abandoned her. Her relationship was not a legal marriage, but a commitment to a man who made a false promise of marrying her. He beat her, abused her after consuming alcohol and had multiple relationships.

Returned to her mother

Fed up, she left it all to return to her widowed mother. Today her family consists of her ailing mother and two young sons. \” have accepted this as my destiny. For so long I have heard people scorn, the taunts on my character. But what can I do? I have a larger and bigger struggle- to earn a living, to feed my family, says Bilaso.

Patriarchal values

In India, patriarchal norms define the woman\’s \’place\’ in society, her identity always attached to a male- a father or a brother or a husband. Even with the most progressive legislation on the subject, India\’s hinterlands continue to be dominated with overarching patriarchal values. The situation is made complex by the multiple layers of vulnerabilities – a single Dalit poor woman abandoned by her husband faces multiple levels of discrimination and abuse.

First Single Women Survey in Orissa

IndiaIt is this group of marginalized and exploited women that was identified by NSS in the first ever single woman survey conducted in the district. The outcome of the survey was the identification of more than 150 unwed mothers, mostly Dalits who were victims of the false promise marriages. A list was drawn of all the women and sent to the District Collector.

25 km to work Bilaso was working as a wage labourer under the government programme, NREGA, constructing roads. There was no work in my area, tells Bilaso. Last year one of the big multinational companies was taking up work widening a road, so Bilaso had to travel 25 km to work at that site. \”An entire day of back breaking work and I used to earn 90 INR (Indian rupees) a day. Last year I got work only for 4 months\” says Bilaso.

Accessing Government Schemes with Advocacy Sustained advocacy at all levels of governance by NSS has ensured that a number of women in this area get access to housing and a means to earn their livelihood. Bilaso has recently received the first installment of money from the Government scheme with which she has bought 6 goats. She is the only earning member of her family and dreams of having a bigger business rearing goats in the future.