In India, Daughters-in-Law Encouraged to Speak Up

Friday, September 6, 2013

Shenaz Hamid Khan lives in a small one-bedroom apartment –about 300 square feet– in Govandi, an overcrowded government resettlement slum on the outskirts of Mumbai, with 15 other people from her husband’s family.

Her household includes her husband’s parents, their four other sons; three sons’ wives and seven grandchildren. To sleep at night, they stretch out on the floor or outside on a balcony that they share with 11 other housing units on this floor.

Nineteen-year-old Khan, a new mother to one of the grandchildren playing on the floor nearby, doesn’t talk much. She sits on the floor of the apartment letting her mother-in-law, Farzana Khan, answer most of the questions.

Farzana Khan says her daughter-in-law’s recent pregnancy was physically draining. She often carried water up all seven flights of stairs to their apartment, and the climb alone would exhaust the younger woman, she says.

Shenaz Hamid Khan had suffered from tuberculosis three or four years before, and she relapsed after her daughter, Alisha, was born eight months ago. She “let herself go,” Farzana Khan says.

Now, Farzana Khan makes sure the young mother has enough to eat, makes her doctors’ appointments and takes her medication.

Source: women' (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
public health, reproductive health