Chandramma* has faced battles that no mother should have to go through. She was married off at 15 and faced the death of her first child soon after. The only sense of healing came when she had her second child, but that too was fleeting. Her husband abandoned her, leaving her to support her little family as a single mother working in a silk factory. Thinking a partner would help her situation, she remarried. But after giving birth to another child, she couldn't make ends meet to care for him. She was desperate to give her son a better life.
Accepting a position that promised her a better life, Chandramma* was deceived. Her hands were left raw and cramped from handling worms in boiling water and working non-stop up to 16 hours a day. She was forced to make incomprehensible decisions for her child. Should she use their two-liter water rations to avoid dehydration, or to bathe her son and prevent more painful rashes and boils? Chandramma* tried to escape, but she was locked in a tiny, dark cell for six months with her 4-year-old son beside her. Thanks to our partners, Chandramma* and her child were rescued from the cell and their freedom was restored. Today, she is a brave spokeswoman for the fight to end slavery, and a mum she fought to be for her sons—one who can give them each a life in freedom.
Irinea Buendía is scarred by the memory of the last day she saw her daughter, Mariana. Deciding to leave her abusive husband she said to her mother, 'I will file a complaint…I know they will not touch him. He has always said that I cannot do anything to him, as he is a policeman; but I want to set a legal precedent. I will be back at 3, and have lunch with you." She never made it back for lunch.
Irinea lost her daughter to femicide — the gender-based killings of women. The day Mariana died, her abusive husband called Irinea Buendía to tell her that her daughter had committed suicide. From the moment she knew that he had murdered her daughter. She then started a long pursuit of justice, fighting tirelessly to send her daughter's abuser to jail.
Thanks to her advocacy and commitment to justice, Mariana’s murderer was arrested. The case resulted in a higher priority being given to femicide investigations, bringing justice to women across the country. Today Irinea is a human rights defender. She bravely supports other families who have lost women to gender-related killings and assists them in finding justice.
Cindy* lived with her Grandmother, Ada*, growing up in poverty on the outskirts of Nairobi. She had been born with a mental disability that limited her speech. At the age of 8, a neighbour she knew and trusted took advantage of her vulnerability and sexually abused her.
The day of the disgusting abuse , Cindy* took longer than usual to return home from school. The next morning, Ada* noticed that she was having troubles while walking and her school uniform had bloodstains. Ada* asked Cindy* about it, she was only able to say the name of abuser through tears. Immediately, Ada* rushed her to the hospital where she was admitted for three days.
Ada* reported the abuse, and the neighbour was soon arrested. Despite being born with a physical disability and having to use a wheelchair, she continued to support Cindy* through the court trial. She accompanied her to all the 16 counselling sessions, and never missed court sessions regardless of how straining it was. Cindy's* aftercare worked said "I believe her resilience propelled everyone else to fight so bravely for Cindy’s* justice."
Svetlana*was just 12 years old when she was walking home from school and a distant relative insisted to give her a lift in his car. From that day on, her mother Nona* would often find her crying. Her family eventually took her took her to a doctor, and devastatingly they realised that Svetlana* had been raped. They were heartbroken!
Svetlana* belongs to a Roma family. The unwritten rules of their community state that no other Roma man can marry her. The abuser was sentenced to either marry Svetlana* or pay a sum of money to her family for having stolen her virginity. This is the heartbreaking reality for many girls in Moldova, who are not only raped but then forced into marriage.
Svetlana's* mother, Nona*, stepped in to fight for her daughters freedom. She refused the money and the marriage. Nona* stated, “We could not accept the money, my girl is not for sale. But neither could we have her marry at 12. What about her childhood, her dreams? Our decision took the community by surprise, but we knew that what she needed most was for us to stand by her and let her stay with her family, surrounded by our love.”
Nona* challenged social norms to give her daughter a better chance at life. Despite potential repercussions of judgement and abuse, she stood firm in unrelenting love for her child. Unlike many other Roma girls, Svetlana* continued going to school. Her teachers helped her in her healing process and encouraged her to continue her education. Her mother is committed to supporting her to go to university and continues to stand by her refusal of the reparatory marriage.