There is no word like "Compromise" in the dictionary of my life: Mayaa SH

Dr. Mayaa SH is an Indian-born women's protection activist and a legal and social worker, known for her work to prevent young girls and women from committing suicide and falling into the trap of sex-trafficking. Ahead of her birthday, we would like to share with you the experience of Lady Gandhi Mayaa SH , popularly known as the Iron Lady. In this interview, ahead of her birthday, we would like to share with you the experiences of Gandhi, popularly known as the Iron Lady. In this interview, Dr Mayaa SH talks to us about the challenges of being in a field where women are still proving their mettle and a range of topics from anti-human trafficking ideology to acid attack survivors and stalking cases, besides, helping people to get a new life and begin their second innings at any age .

What is your most memorable experience that you handled in your stint so far?

It is very difficult till remember which matter was the most easy to crack or decipher in code and which was the toughest, but yes my journey started when I held a baby girl if six months with sixty stitches in her private parts in sagfarjung. The seventy five steps that I took out of that hospital that evening totally changed the course of my mindset of changing my career and field totally. People assume that the women from GB Road in Delhi to Budhwaar Peth in Pune who stand on the roads with their lipsticks on are doing so because this is what they have always wanted to do. People assume and judge them and hence, find it difficult to see them as victims of a crime.I had received a call from a b s c student a year and a half ago that due to financial crisis she has to be in flesh trade to support studies. It is a very kong story in itself. We ensured thag she gets a part time job in a ladies parlour and also complete her education. Today she is a full time teacher of Botany in a college. Apart from this there was a matter related to an acid victim survivor, who was being stalked,in that matter we asked the girl to prepare a solution of lims water and light color turmeric and asked the perpetrators of crime to meet at a point. Ofcourse, we had coordinated with the police officials there who were a backup.The girl ran behind the bikers who were blackmailing and harrassing her for forced marriage.The bikers thought she was about to throw acid upon them, however, it was simple lime water juice. This made them tremble in fear for life. Ultimately, they were petrified all of a sudden looking at the fearless mindset of this girl who was living in exile owing to a threat in life. She did get her compensation from the court as well. Hence, there is a long list of many matters that mind sound simple in listening to but are complexed with reference to human psychology.

If you could improve one law or policy that will help protect girls and women from violence, what change would you bring?

If I get the opportunity, the first step I will take is to choke the mindset that women give in without consent to either any decision or even child birth. By that I mean I will implement a strict policy to discourage demanding for paid intercourse outside the institution of marriage and forced childbirth. Men who demand for sex from young girls and children have to be stopped by the law. Ideally, they should be punished severely to ensure that they are intimidated to take these steps. The punishment should be equivalent to that of rape cases which is basically a non-bailable offence. The clients who come to the red light areas to participate in the sex trade are the ones who should be booked. I am of the opinion of personal belief that regulating demand is a good way to ensure that vulnerable girls are not being Also, when we talk about gender equality then right to inheritance of father's property must also be based on the ideology that children who take care of their parents, specially during old age are the rightful heir. Many women lose their rights either due to the rigid societal structure or conditioning in the mindset of family lineage. This must also be looked at.

What are your valuable insights on Gender Equality?

Gender Equality is a Non-Negotiable Human Right. Every Voice reflects unequivocally a representation of every Gender and equal rights to all human beings. Girls deserve to be treated equally in the prevalent mindset of the realistic scenario of the world that echoes that an Equal World is an Empowered World.Gender equality is, first and foremost, a human right. It implies that women, men, boys and girls of all classes and races participate as equals and have equal value. They enjoy equal access to resources, freedoms and opportunities to exercise control. Gender Equality is focused on pursuing the main goal of real and sustained gender equality in all aspects of women and girls’ lives which includes:

(1) ending gender disparities,
(2) eliminating violence against women and girls lives,
(3) eliminating early and forced marriage,
(4) securing equal participation and opportunities.
A nation needs to value every gender equally to progress at the right place. A society attains better development in all aspects when both genders are entitled to similar opportunities. Equal rights in decision making, health, politics, infrastructure, profession, etc. will surely advance our society to a new level. 

What advice would you give young girls or women wanting to do something of their own?

When I started to live by mh passion to write specially with reference to women rights, my motivation was never to think that far initially. I interacted first to rescue one person from commiting suicide only by deploying talk as a therapy. That also eventually made me understand the power of words. Eventually I ended up rescuing so many lives with just enabling them to better navigate stress at that phase of their lives and process their emotions. The next step for me was to try and reinstitutionalise the ideology in minds of many that "Life Is Really Long and extremely Beautiful". I struggled with each matter and in some cases, families did not accept the girls because of the stigma around their experience. This motivated me to start to provide enablers to first save anybody's life who does not wish to breathe as well. Hence, that I could provide a safe space to all specially girls or women who had been through so much trauma at such a young age. My next motivation after that was to try and create alternate livelihoods for their future so that they are able to lead a safe and normal life. All these experiences were the motivation behind me starting to devote time to those who can or could not afford heavy fees as a consultation for counselling in our country. If young people want to live their passion, they can do that only if they are committed to the cause just like we were. If they are motivated to be change agents, I suggest that they begin by volunteering in an existing organization and contribute individually to the cause.

-©® Dr Mayaa SH 

About The Author 

With a long history of service and advocacy for abused women and their children and over the years, Mayaa SH has evolved as a developmental feminist in response to changing needs, focusing on client-based services that are both trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive. She has counselled several girls and women across the country with no fees as her social responsibility towards uplifting women to rekindle hope and find a purpose in life. Mayaa SH is universally described as an unflagging feminist and one of the most original voices to have emerged in the course of the modern feminist women’s movement , who has had the ability to rip through ideas of patriarchy with rapier sharp wit or laughter. Mayaa SH is not only set out to be a feminist activist. In Pune she also post graduated into Industrial Economics as one of her degrees to study the consequences of economic change in societies. In words of Mayaa "I increasingly found that amongst the condemned, women were left far behind,” she said in one of her interviews. Referring to people plagued with the evils of casteism “Amongst the poorer, women were more economically exploited section of the society.Amongst the excluded, women were more excluded. So even though I was not meant to be aligned to the field of women empowerment and feminism, I slowly became one without even knowing the word ‘feminist’ at that time. ”Amongst the most famous ideology of "Vichaar" (reflect) in which Mayaa has insisted on the power of self belief and inner reflection first to reinvent and rediscover one's purpose in life ,here is an excerpt:

"To fight any sort of violence, I must reflect.
To end my suffering, I must reflect.
To challenge the doctrine of patriarchal norms, I must reflect.
To demolish all the structural norms of orthodox thinking , I must reflect.
Because I’m a girl, I must reflect.
To mould a faith I can trust, I must reflect."
I must reflect to Awake from the deep slumber of bondage of mindset, Rise and Keep Moving Forward as Sky is not the Limit and the Will to Succeed Invigorates Strength to Combat Fear in Life. Mayaa SH who has lived by the slogan of "Vichaar" decodes the concept of Feminism. An activist, poet and author, she has spent most of her adult life raising voice against injustice and patriarchy and building a strong foundation of solidarity with women across borders. The unflagging feminist and communicator par excellence, Mayaa SH has left a unique imprint on the women’s movement across India. Her feminism is a nurturing one; even those who thought differently were touched by it. Mayaa SH is committed to ending domestic violence. Using a self-help, empowerment approach, she has provided a shelter for adults and children, counseling, advocacy, and a 24-hour hotline for people affected by domestic violence free of cost with attending calls even at 2 am. Mayaa's vision is dedicated for social change through education, service collaboration, and institutional advocacy. Mayaa believes that all people have a right to violence-free lives. She believes that abusive acts are acts of power and control that the victim does not provoke, enjoy or deserve. This is in holding perpetrators of abuse accountable for their actions. Thus, all people have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Mayaa SH believes that victims of abuse can regain control of their lives through appropriate support services, information and referral to community services. Mayaa is an avid motivator and mentor who believes in "Rebuilding Lives, Renewing Hope", thereby, empowering adults and their children with the skills they need to live a life that is free of fear and to move forward on their healing journey.
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