“I am not afraid of anyone. To be able to do anything, you must have courage. Balancing your enthusiasm and consciousness helps you get the work done and that is how I have always worked.”
– Shahjahan Begum
“Feminism means that you fight for yourself, that you become strong and you don’t discriminate between your sons and daughters… I lost my daughter years ago but I saved thousands and thousands of others.”
– Satyarani Chadha
Shakti Shalini was established in 1987 by Satyarani Chadha and Shahjahan Begum. The two women had lost their daughters to death by burning at the hands of their respective marital families on the pretext of insufficient dowry. United in grief and engaged in legal battles for justice, they founded Shakti Shalini. They not only supported countless survivors of violence, but actively led movements that culminated in forming the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, and strengthened anti-dowry laws.
Even with their individual struggles that led them to fight rigorous battles in courts throughout a major part of their lives, both Satyarani and Shahjahan always focused on other survivors and families fighting for justice. They mobilised and organised for the women’s movement through their lives and waged a legal and cultural attack on dowry and domestic violence that continues, to this day, to benefit and support Indian women.
The UN had declared 1975-85 the Women’s Decade and Satyrani and Shahjahan participated with indomitable courage in the international feminist wave. They told their stories to the world and became the whistleblowers of a generation. Now, long after they have passed, our organisation continues the fight for gender equality.