A young woman trapped in a child’s body dreams of going shopping for dresses like her friends but is terrified men will kidnap her.
Laxmi Yadav, from Delhi, in India, is 20-years-old but she stopped growing aged five because of a rare hormone disorder and has since been trapped in a child’s body.
She has NOT gone through puberty, she doesn’t wear a bra and at a height of 3ft 3ins she weighs three stone and wears clothes for a six-year-old.
She said: ‘I’ve been bullied all my adult life for being small. I don’t go out much because I’m frightened that I’ll get harmed. Being alone in a place scares me. Once, a child from our community was abducted and taken in a van. I’ve been terrified ever since. And if I see a van lurking around I run home. I fear I’ll be sexually attacked. It’s rife in India and I’d be an easy target being so small. It’s my main reason for never going alone anywhere.’
When Laxmi stopped growing at five her parents couldn’t afford the hormone injections that would’ve helped her condition.
Consequently, she went on to live a life of ridicule and fear.
I’ve been bullied all my adult life for being small. I don’t go out much because I’m frightened that I’ll get harmed
And she remains in a child’s body for their rest of her life because necessary hormone injections are needed before the age of 16 or 17.
As a disabled woman in India it’s now even harder for Laxmi to build a life for herself.
She joined the same school, in Badshahpur, Haryana, as her older brother, Azad, 22, who suffers the same condition, and their younger normal-height sister, Suman, 15, and had the support of good teachers and a small circle of friends.
Laxmi added: ‘I was lucky to find a group of friends at school who never bullied me and they often protected me against others. But as soon as I stepped out of my family or friend circle people were always nasty and pitiful. Now, I hate meeting new people because it hurts getting stared at and bullied every time. I’ve now learnt to ignore them and sometimes I’ll be rude and tell them what I think.’
Laxmi graduated from high school this year with top marks and would like to do a computer course at college but physically, life is difficult..
She added: ‘I’ve had to watch all my friends grow into young women and their bodies change. I’m not growing on any front. I know what I should look like by now but I don’t wear a bra as I don’t have breasts and I haven’t started menstruating. I’ll never be able to have children, as my body has never grown past five.
‘I sometimes think about the life I could’ve had if I was normal and it makes me sad. I’d have fun and independence, and enjoy a life I see other girls my age having. But I talk to my sister and mum when I’m sad and they help motivate me again. My mother is very supportive; I love her very much.’
Laxmi is best friends with her brother and sister and will not go anywhere without one of them by her side.
She doesn’t enjoy the cinema or cafes like other girls her age, she plays games on her laptop or mobile phone and watches TV soap operas or films.
I sometimes think about the life I could’ve had if I was normal and it makes me sad
She hates going shopping and would much prefer to spend her money on a new laptop of phone instead of ‘girly stuff’.
Her mother, Parvati, 52, even does her clothes shopping for her. She said: ‘I go shopping and bring a selection of clothes home for her to choose from. It seems to work for us and means Laxmi doesn’t have to be embarrassed out and about in shops. Laxmi has not developed into a young woman, she has no breasts and has not started with her menstruation, because of this we’re hesitant about getting her married.’
Laxmi doesn’t want to get married and refuses to even consider meeting any men who could one day become a loving husband.
She explained: ‘I don’t want to get married because I’m frightened of putting my future into the hands of a bad person. I don’t want anyone to come into my life who might treat me badly and then disown me anytime he wishes to. I can’t have kids anyway so what’s the point?’
Sometimes Suman encourages her big sister Laxmi to leave the house and socialize. And last week, when they were in a shopping mall together, Laxmi was offered a job as a sales assistant.
She was hesitate at first because of the fear of doing anything alone, but eventually she accepted the four hour a day job, and will earn 5000 R (£55) a month salary.
She said: ‘I need a job, my family would love the extra income and I want to be a financial support to my family. I’m scared, but I’m tough and I’ll overcome my fears to do this.’
The owner of The Lisa Collection store, Bosky Arora, 33, said she would love to give Laxmi a chance to earn some independence.
‘We do very well in this shop. Laxmi is a wonderful confident girl, but I hope I can help her grow even more and gain some independence. We must help everyone where we can. And anyone with a disability should be helped to feel as normal as possible. I’m sure Laxmi and I will become good friends.’
Laxmi added: ‘I’ve always been scared of leaving the house alone so I’ll come with my sister for the first few weeks. But I’ll have to get used to it eventually. I’m excited at the thought of having a purpose; coming out every day to earn money will make me feel very proud. This side of my life was forever been cut off, I was never able to enjoy such an experience, so I hope this will bring me a lot of joy.’