Meet The Caseworkers: Episode 5, Rajkumari Prajapati

“It’s not that simple to work with police or men in law and order, because they look down on us as women. No matter how educated we are, how knowledgeable we become, every man harbours this thought inside him, “Oh she is just a woman, what can she do?”

Who is a caseworker? What was that one case that stayed with them? How do they deal with violence, both as a survivor and as a caseworker? What pushes them to step out everyday and work on cases of violence? In this episode, meet Rajkumari Prajapati from Lalitpur, Uttar Pradesh. In 2008, 19-year-old Rajkumari joined Sahjani Shiksha Kendra as a teacher, where she taught girls and women in a residential school. Since then, she handles cases as a caseworker and also makes films with The Third Eye. Rajkumari says, “After working on cases of violence against women for 15-16 years, it isn’t that I don’t face it anymore. But now I can question and talk to people about it.”

In 2022, we started working with 12 caseworkers across Uttar Pradesh, locating them as creators of knowledge around violence. With them, we created a vocabulary around gender-based violence (GBV) emerging from the grassroots, which is now live as the Caseworker’s Dictionary of Violence. The lexicographers for this dictionary are from Lalitpur, Lucknow, and Banda, with days, nights and decades of working cases that may have disappeared from history, if it wasn’t for them.

The 12 caseworkers who have co-authored this Dictionary, intervene in situations of murder, rape, abduction, child sexual abuse, dowry deaths and domestic violence. The caseworkers have emerged from the communities they work with, and have experienced violence in their own lives. They have learnt to be caseworkers by showing up, by doing, and by the occasional legal training and input.

In our series, Meet the Caseworkers, we spoke individually to these 12 caseworkers. They trace their lives and times, their epiphanies, their regrets. They also share tools and strategies for other grassroot workers working with violence.

The Third Eye is being written and developed by a team of educators, documentary filmmakers, storytellers; people with extensive experience of gathering narratives, oral histories and developing contextual pedagogies for the rural and the marginalised.

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