Rajeshri Kale is 29 years old and hails from Pardhi community living at Datta Nagar, Pune. In 1952, the tribe was denotified as “criminal” and named as a nomadic tribe. However this has not changed the public perception of the tribe, and they continue to be stigmatized and live as lots of challenges. When she was in college, she was accused of stealing cell phone of one of her Professors, who had lost it. Junior staff in her college teased her, make fun of her, stared her with strange eyes and that used to upset her.
Majority of Pardhi community are deprived of basic rights. They live in shanties and may times in make shift tents. They do not have evidences and documents to prove their citizenship; hence they do not get access to adequate housing, access to good education and various government schemes. Being a woman, a Pardhi womanv face more difficulties than a Pardhi man. Patriarchal norms are very stringent in her community. Rajeshri had to prove her chastity before her marriage by walking on fire. But after few years of her marriage, her husband left her for another woman and she has to take care of her two daughters.
In 2010, Rajeshri formed an Organization named Rajeshri Adivasi Pardhi Samaj Vikas Parishad (RAPSVP). After setting up the Organization, Rajeshri got associated with Manuski. She undertook leadership training at Manuski. During her tenure in Manuski, she got access to knowledge and information about various laws. Through support from Manuski, She also conducted surveys on certain issues related to her community and ensured that action is taken by the government authorities. She also did advocacy to put pressure on the State Government to include her community in the national census survey.
Rajeshri says ‘In the colonial times, the Britishers were exploiting the Indians and now the higher caste people are treating in same manner to my community. We are left with only two sources to survive, one is to become a robber or thief, and another is to sell our women or become prostitute.
Rajeshri further says that she started from zero and now she has expanded her work in Aurangabad. Solapur and Pune district.