“It used to be that girls were treated almost like slaves in our village, but that is changing,” says the captain of the village cricket team, Thanga, 14.
Thanga says: “We learned about girls’ rights at night school. I have two sisters who have to do everything at home. My parents treat us differently and I think that’s unfair. They shout at my sisters, but to me they just say ‘Go and rest or play’! This makes my sisters sad, so I help them anyway. I usually wash clothes or peel onions. That makes my eyes sting so much that it looks like I’m crying!”
When Thanga has children of his own he plans to treat his sons and daughters equally. “They’ll be able to go to school and they won’t have to do hard work. I’ll never let anyone give a daughter of mine poisoned milk. I’ll only let my daughters drink normal milk so they grow strong.” Thanga wants to be an engineer and build better houses for poor people. “The houses we have now are not stable, and they sometimes collapse. That’s dangerous, and it makes me angry.”
Paul, Venketesh and Thanga will treat their children equally.
My sister was going to be killed at birth, but she was rescued,” says Thanga’s friend Venketesh, 15. “Our parents have explained to us that they didn’t know any better before. Now they do. I can’t imagine life without my sister. She and my mother are a part of me!”
Paul wants to bring justice
“I want to be a police officer and to fight crime. Nobody should kill or hurt anybody else. It makes me sad when I think about men who have beaten their wives to death, and families who have killed baby daughters. This has to stop. At night school, we learn that everyone has a right to be treated equally, and we don’t look down on girls.” Paul has three brothers, but no sisters.
“I often think about my sisters who died. I wonder what they would look like now, and what games we would have played together.”