Tortured physically and mentally in an abusive relation, and cheated on by her husband, 37-year-old Nusrat Parveen braved all odds to win Mrs India International in 2018 and become the first Kashmiri Muslim woman to win that title.
Born in Khanpora, Yaripora, a small village in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district, Nusrat Parveen is the fourth among six siblings. She received her basic education in Srinagar and lived in Lucknow and Lonavala where her father, late Farooq Ahmad Khan, an army personnel was posted.
During their stay at Lonavala, Nusrat dropped her studies at the age of 17 and took art classes at home. At the age of 20, she married a man who she had met at a wedding, and doesn’t want to name. They had gotten married in spite of family opposition, especially her in-laws.
A Life of Abuse and Domestic Violence
After marriage, her in-laws reluctantly accepted the Nikah and the couple stayed in the family house, but they were allowed to live in the lobby. This was only the start of Nusrat’s problems.
In a couple of weeks, they were allowed to stay in a room in the house but on condition of paying Rs 500 to her in-laws. Nusrat had to face daily abuses by her in-laws. Their demand for money kept increasing, and they would argue with their son often. On every such occasion, her husband would beat Nusrat to vent out his anger. Her brother-in-law would beat her too in an inebriated state, at times joined by her mother-in-law.
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On January 24, 2003, Nusrat gave birth to a baby girl, Aiman (name changed). Meanwhile, the demand for money kept increasing, when her husband was unable to pay, his parents threw them out. Her husband was lucky to get a few projects and managed a loan for a flat. After giving birth to another child, Nusrat, who had been helping her husband at work, started staying at home to look after the house and kids.
However, she became so involved in her household duties that she found out much later that her husband was having an affair with his personal assistant. Following heated arguments over this, Nusrat left her house and went to live with her mother who lived in Lonavala.
In 2017, on the insistence of one of her husband’s clients and her old acquaintance, she returned home, only to find out that the affair had not ended. When confronted he admitted to having another wife. Depressed, Nusrat tried to commit suicide but was saved by her sister and brother.
She had decided not to live with her husband any longer. Meanwhile, her husband brought the other woman, his second wife to stay in their house. After this, Nusrat filed for divorce on charges of domestic violence, extramarital affairs, fraudulence and maintenance. This was later settled on a mutual basis.
The Journey to Mrs India International
In June 2018, during the process of divorce, Nusrat came across the application form for Mrs India contest in Malaysia on Instagram. She decided to give it a try and applied for it. She was selected for auditions. In the auditions held in Bangalore, she was selected as the finalist.
On July 16, she travelled to Malaysia. She managed to reach the final round and on July 22, she appeared in the final round and won the crown of Mrs India International.
Nusrat Parveen At Malasiya With The Crown of MRS India 2018. Photo Provided By Nusrat.
“It was a proud moment for me, despite going through all of the mess, I won the title, and I earned pride for myself, without seeking help from anyone,” she says. Her life took another turn in 2019 when she met a man, Tahir Zargar who she eventually married.
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Extreme domestic violence and betrayal made Nusrat realise that there may be several other women who may be going through similar tortures. She decided to stay back in Kashmir and dedicate herself to the cause of other women. She got in touch with several social workers in Lonavala and Kashmir, from whom she got to know of many women who had similar ordeals.
Fight for Women’s Rights
Back in Kashmir, Nusrat decided to work for women’s rights and educate females about their rights and how they could raise their voices against domestic violence. She started going to maternity hospitals to help and support families who lacked financial support. She provides clothes, food and other required items to the needy.
She has helped many young women, whose immediate relatives are in jails, in their marriage ceremonies. She and her husband, who is a government employee, travel to far-flung villages to impart basic information on women’s rights to uneducated women. Nusrat is trying to help the uneducated women by teaching them the basic use of a mobile phone so that they are able to make a call to report about abuse.
From getting legal help and providing free advocacy for women like her, she has established contacts in both courts of Kashmir and Lonavala and help females accordingly. “I can’t go to every person who wants help. But I try my best as much as I can do,” she says.
There have been many cases in which her husband Tahir has given a part of his salary to many deserving women and young girls. Nusrat has managed to create a chain of like-minded people who are willing to come forward to help victims of abuse.
She gives guidance to many mothers about how to create a sense of responsibility among kids while raising them, including respect for every gender. She says, “This will help them in future, as they learn to respect their wives and husbands.”
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In addition, she councils kids, both boys and girls, on how to notify if they are being molested. “It is important to teach children the difference between right and wrong touch,” she adds.
She believes that society is a mix of both good and bad people. Young kids and women must be taught to be able to recognise good from bad and stay on guard to avoid being molested.
“Women aren’t weak, my ex-husband treated me as a cow who would spend her time caged within the walls of the home and dedicate herself for him. Looking after the house and children is okay, but not at the cost of being cheated or abused,” says Nusrat.