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Usha Narayane

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by

Paige Tenkhoff

on 25 February 2013

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Transcript of Usha Narayane

Circle of Sisterhood Half the sky USHA NARAYANE Her story Kasturba Nagar is a breeding ground for hopelessness and despair. It reeks of sewage and dirt.

Men work menial jobs and women work as housemaids. The residents of Kasturba Nagar have little hope of escaping poverty.

Usha Narayane was different. Her parents were determined to educate her and her siblings.

Her father had a high school education, and her mother is literate. They are unusually well-educated for their slum. Yadav was infamous for his cruel crimes. He once raped a woman right after her wedding. He tortured a woman by cutting off her breasts in front of a crowd, including her daughter. He and his men gang-raped a woman 10 days after she gave birth. She was so horrified, she burned herself alive with kerosene. His men dragged another woman out of her house, while she was seven months pregnant, and raped her in public view.

Yadav's crimes became so feared, 25 families moved away from Usha's slum. But for most Dalits, the move was unaffordable. Usha's career as a hotel manager is over.

She is now a community organizer, working within Kasturba Nagar to bring Dalits together to make products.

Her goal is raise their income so that they can afford education, and become "fearless" like her. Usha was born in the slum of Kasturba Nagar, in the Indian city of Nagpur.

Kasturba Nagar is the home of Dalits, or "Untouchables" in Indian society.

India has a very rigid caste-system, and often times people in lower castes are marginalized and ignored by the population at large.

Usha and all four of her siblings went to college. No one from Kasturba Nagar had ever gone to university before them.

Her mother said her education made her fearless.

Usha had a bright and promising future as a hotel manager, until she found herself in the direct path of Akku Yadav, her slum's warlord. AKKU YADAV Akku Yadav controlled her slum. He managed a band of gangsters who robbed, murdered and tortured the Dalits.

Authorities did not concern themselves with such low-caste citizens.

There was no help for the Dalits. Most Dalits responded by pulling their daughters out of school, so they could not fall victim to the horrifying violence being perpetrated by Yadav.

One day, Yadav and his thugs raped a 13-year old girl. They went to Usha's neighbor's house, demanded money and threatened to kill her family. Usha arrived after the incident, and urged her neighbor to go to the police. When her neighbor refused, for fear of Yadav, Usha went to the authorities.

The authorities informed Yadav of Usha's actions, and he and forty men went to her house with the intention of killing her. Usha barricaded the door. Yadav brought a bottle of acid and told her to withdraw the complaint or her would harm her. Usha refused to submit. Instead she shouted insults back, telling Yadav she would not give in. Yadav then began to yell threats of rape and murder, while his men attempted to break into the house.

Usha turned on the gas pipe her family used for cooking and grabbed a match. She threatened to blow them both up if he did not stop. Yadav smelled the gasoline, and his men backed down.

Inspired by Usha's bravery, the rest of the Dalits to fight back. They grabbed sticks and rocks and began to hurl them at Yadav. They scared the gang away, and then proceeded to burn Yadav's house to the ground. Akku Yadav went to the police. They arrested him for his own protection. The police planned to release him under the agreement of a corrupt bargain.

Akku Yadav went to his bail hearing, and so did hundreds of Dalit women from Kasturba Nagar. When Yadav began to hurl insults at one of the women he had previously raped, she charged him, hitting him with her slipper.

"This time, either I will kill you, or you will kill me," she yelled.

The hundreds of Dalit women followed suit. They threw chili powder to blind the guards, and pulled out knives.

They stabbed Yadav to death as apart of premeditated plan to end him. When the police arrested Usha, the hundreds of Dalit women stepped up and claimed responsibility together. Now Usha is out of custody and Kasturba Nagar is free of their warlord.
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