If you are reading this, chances are you are more privileged than you realise. Sadly, a majority of the population in India does not share the same privilege. One such person is S Petchiammal, who had to disguise herself in order to raise her lone daughter, for over 30 years!

s petchiammal
Source: India Times

Petchiammal hails from Katunayakkanpatti village, located 30km from Thoothukudi town. She got married when she was only 20 years old and lost her husband 15 days later. She soon gave birth to her daughter, Shanmugasundari. 

I lost my husband Siva just 15 days after marriage. I was only 20 years old then, and soon I gave birth to Shanmugasundari. I decided not to marry again. But raising a child alone turned out to be difficult. I worked in construction sites, hotels and tea shops. But I suffered harassment at all these places.

                    - Petchiammal

If you think being a mother is hard, being a single mother raising her daughter in a patriarchal society is harder. Petchiammal worked in construction sites, hotels and tea shops but suffered harassment. 

To escape the sexual slurs and harassment, she went to the Tiruchendur Murugan Temple, changed her attire to a shirt and lungi, and rechristened herself as 'Muthu'.

s petchiammal muthu
Source: IFORHER
We resettled at Kattunayakkanpatti over 20 years ago. Only my close relatives back home and my daughter knew that I am a woman.

                    - Petchiammal

And for 36 years, Petchiammal has been Muthu everywhere, be it her Aadhaar card, ration card or voter id card. But now at 57, it's difficult for her to do hard labour anymore, and so she obtained a MGNREGS job card a year ago on female identity. 

She is now seeking help from the government to provide her some financial aid. 

I don’t own a house or have any savings. I can’t apply for widow certificate also. Since I am too old to work, I request the government to offer me some monetary aid.

                    - Petchiammal

Speaking to TNIE, Collector Dr K Senthil Raj said he would check if benefits under any social welfare scheme could be extended to Petchiammal.

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