Honour killing survivor Kausalya Shankar becomes entrepreneur, wants to help other women

In 2016, in a horrific case of honor killing and caste-based violence, Shankar, a Dalit man, and his wife Kausalya, who belongs to the Thevar community, were attacked in broad daylight in Udumalpet town in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruppur district.

While Shankar died on the spot, Kausalya survived with serious injuries. The CCTV footage of the horrific incident, which later went viral, would bring to light a shocking case of honor killing initiated by Kausalya’s family and carried out by hired killers.

Shankar and Kausalya met in college, fell in love, and married against her family’s wishes.

And despite a landmark judgment in 2017 that convicted his father, along with five others, he was denied justice when the Madras High Court, in 2020, overturned the Sessions court’s verdict and acquitted his father and two other

Kausalya’s battle is far from over. He is a fierce activist, raising his voice against caste-based violence and honor killings. She also started a foundation in her husband’s name that works to raise children from marginalized communities.

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Now a fierce follower of the teachings of BR Ambedkar and Periyar, he has also learned to play. paradise, and married Sakthi, a parai artist in a ritual of self-respect.

Sakthi is also an activist and is vocal against caste atrocities. “At one point, he was fired, but the decision was later reversed. I resigned from my job because I realized my duty to society,” Kausalya said.

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The beauty business

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Kausalya and actor Parvathy Thiruvothu at the opening of Zha salon

Kausalya recently quit his government job to become an entrepreneur. She opened a beauty salon, Zha, in Vellalur, Coimbatore, which was inaugurated by actor Parvathy Thiruvothu a month ago.

“My government job did not allow me to become a full-time activist or participate in any form of social work. My main fight is against honor killings, and I had to take permission every time I had to talk to the media. It was going to be difficult. Some of my friends suggested I enter the beauty business as I have always loved cosmetology,” he said HerStory.

After completing a “beautician course”, Kausalya took a bank loan, pledged her jewelry, and borrowed money from a friend to start Zha.

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The salon, he said will be a “one family-friendly without separate services for women, men, and children”.

“We provide all beauty services, go beyond haircuts and styling. We also offer quality beauty products,” he said.

Apart from donating some money from the business to social causes, Kausalya wants to encourage other survivors to start their own businesses.

“We are ready to offer franchises in our salon, the necessary training, and all the help necessary to stand on their own feet, and start a new life,” he said.

Kausalya’s fight against honor killing is an ongoing one. He says it’s encouraging that there’s more awareness and conversation happening, but there’s still a way to go.

“Everything comes down to gender equality. Parents should treat boys and girls equally from childhood. For this, parents should first understand how equality drives progress in society,” he said.

Kausalya uses every forum and stage available to talk about honor killings, and believes that these cases need awareness at all levels, even among the police.

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He is also seeking a law against honor killings in Tamil Nadu. “While there is an act in Rajasthan against this heinous crime, I hope the DMK government will implement one in the state as well,” he said.

Despite the many challenges on his way, his fight is relentless. The Shankar Social Justice Trust helps victims of caste violence, and has saved many women from a similar fate. He gave them a safe place to stay when they were opposed for marrying into a caste.

“My friends – disciples of Periyar, Ambedkar, and Marx – are my family. They continue to support me at every step. Kausalya said.

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