At the age of 65, Shafika and her husband are living separately due to poverty and family compulsion. Her husband is staying with his elder son, while Shafika is staying with the younger son who is recently married and unemployed. Old age pension is the only source of income for Shafika and her family. The past six months has been very difficult for Shafika to survive. Earlier her husband had a surgery for stones in the gallbladder and recently she was admitted in the hospital for dengue which was an additional financial burden on Shafika and her family members. “At this juncture of life it is very difficult for us to deal with triple burden such as poverty, old age and sickness. In big cities like Delhi it is very difficult for us to survive in Rs 1,000 a month for old couples,” she says.
Since the last one year, only Shafika is getting the old age pension from government of Delhi, whereas her husband is not eligible for the old age pension as his date of birth is wrongly mentioned in the ration card. Many a times he has visited the supply departments, local MLA, Councillor and even the office of the SDM to make corrections in the ration card, but at this point of time due to sickness he is unable to pursue it further.
Shafika got the support from a neighbour who is associated with a CBO called Mahila Pragati Manch, working among marginalised women in Delhi. Like her husband, she too had to visit the supply department several times for the correction of her age in the ration card. Even after rigorous attempts, she failed to do the correction in her ration card. When she approached her neighbour, she visited the supply department twice and got the work done. Then she applied for old age pension at the Gender Resource Centre (GRC) which is run by the government of Delhi. After six months, she got her old age pension and she is availing it once in three months.
Today the situation is different, but her concern about leading a life with dignity is still there. Narrating her concern Shafika questions: “I know I am getting Rs. 1,000 pension from the government but is it sufficient enough for a couple to survive. Price hike is a major concern for us. In the present situation we are only managing with chapatti and pickle. Neither we can afford to have milk nor curry. So we demand that at least the pension amount should increase up to Rs. 2,000 per month. ”
Shafika has come to Jantar Mantar with an expectation that all her demand will be fulfilled so that she can live her life with dignity.