Ending Gender-Based Violence in India

by My Choices
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Ending Gender-Based Violence in India
Ending Gender-Based Violence in India
Ending Gender-Based Violence in India
Ending Gender-Based Violence in India
Ending Gender-Based Violence in India
Ending Gender-Based Violence in India
Ending Gender-Based Violence in India
Ending Gender-Based Violence in India
Ending Gender-Based Violence in India
Ending Gender-Based Violence in India
Ending Gender-Based Violence in India
Ending Gender-Based Violence in India
Ending Gender-Based Violence in India

Rooted in a persistent unequal balance between men and women, boys and girls, historically women and girls have been taught to accept, tolerate and even rationalize domestic violence and to remain silent about such experiences. We recognize the need for comprehensive and multi-layered approaches to this complex social problem that targets whole populations, with our strategic four-pillar approach: Prevent through awareness, Provide support through interventions, Protect survivor’s safety and Prepare men to be allies.

With the generous contributions of friends and supporters from across the world and many through the GlobalGiving platform, we were able to conduct various programmes/initiatives covering four pillars and impacted hundreds of women and children to choose lives to live free from abuse, violence and exploitation.

We equipped and empowered 15 women through the PeaceMakers training programme during June 2022. PeaceMakers are local community women who want to be the facilitators of change in their communities. We train and prepare them to be at the forefront in challenging gender-based violence and creating meaningful change.

We have adopted the robust framework – Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Framework Spheres of Impact –across all our initiatives, projects and programmes to deepen the understanding of the nature of gender-based violence, strengthen engagement and ensure sustainability. As a first step, we have initiated action research in five counselling centres in the state of Telangana; we have rolled-out surveys, and organised in-depth interviews and focus group discussions to gather an understanding of current knowledge, attitudes and perception of domestic violence. This initiative is helping us to build a solid relationship with the community and identify key allies within the community. The research phase will end by the end of October 2022.

 

Our Impact: Nikita found her strength because of friends like you

Nikita thought that her father loved her growing up and so he showed his love by touching all parts of her body. She was too young to understand the complexity of the kind of violence when she experienced it for the first time. Little did know that she was sexually abused by her father. It carried on for almost five years. She became silent, stopped talking to her friends and became anxious even to step out of the house. She felt some sort of an object. It was a heavy blow when her mother didn’t believe it.

Every passing day was a devastating experience for her, pushing her into the hole of helplessness. She felt utterly powerless and the constant abuse forced her to run away from home. But her parents found her within a few days and her father’s acts of violence and abuse became worse. Nikita mustered the courage to leave the house again, but to find herself as a domestic help at her relative’s place. She swept the house, cleaned utensils, cooked food, washed clothes, tended to plants and much more from dawn till midnight without a single day of rest. Her physical condition got hit and she felt helpless again. She couldn’t take it anymore and took a train to Hyderabad.

She met an old woman who was kind enough to her in the train. She loved talking to the old woman and after some time, she requested that she would go along with her. When the old woman explained the legal consequences of taking her without her parent's consent, Nikita wasn’t willing to understand. So, the old woman decided to take Nikita to the Begumpet police station.

Because of My Choices Foundation’s long-term relationship with the Telangana Police Personnel, they called our Lotus Safe Home and enquired about the availability for Nikta. She couldn’t bring herself to talk about what happened to her when our Safe home social worker met her.  After concerted efforts from our counsellors, she began to open up. Once we have gathered information, our counsellors informed her parents. Nikita’s eyes were filled with fear and her scars ran deep and so she wasn’t yet ready to meet her parents. So, the video call was arranged and she continued to stay at Safe Home.

Nikita’s healing process was long and tough, but our counsellors stood with her. Our team continued to work with her through intensive counselling sessions and she grew stronger day by day with her grit and determination. The strength and courage Nikita received at our Lotus Safe home empowered her to redefine the choices for her and her child.

Her self-esteem and confidence came back and she felt alive for the first time in many years. She wanted to be an independent woman and conveyed her interest to the OPM team. We helped Nikita enrol in a skill development programme and completed it successfully. Today, Nikita is a happy and independent young woman, working as a Customer Service Associate in one of the renowned hospitals in Hyderabad, India.

We wouldn’t have been able to help Nikita without the donors like you. You are the ones who gave Nikita a source of strength to find their path to a free and dignified life.

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Training in Progress
Training in Progress

My Choices Foundation conducted training for 30 PeaceMakers in Hyderabad. These women have been trained and equipped by our team to work in the community counselling, educating, and assisting victims of domestic violence.

PeaceMaker programme is an innovative approach to ending domestic violence by harnessing the power of local women to become change agents. 

Our PeaceMakers play an indispensable role in providing support to women and children in Hyderabad and Warangal. PeaceMaker programme is an innovative approach to ending domestic violence by harnessing the power of local women to become change agents.

Our PeaceMakers are trained to understand the various reasons behind Gender-based violence. Understanding what is gender and sex, patriarchy and its toxic effects, our human rights and how gender-based violence is not about woman's rights but exploitation of human rights, and various myths and facts surrounding domestic violence, identifying violence when it happens around them and having the courage to broach this topic with a fellow PeaceMaker.

Importance of Counselling and other interventions the offered by the Counsellor.

We are grateful for these Peacemakers that will bring about changes in the lives of women and girls in their communities! These trained and equipped Peacemakers will go out in the communities and bring about remarkable change.

Client success story with the help of Peacemakers: 

*Sirija (name changed) got married, without her parent's knowledge of the marriage. Her parents lodged a missing case for their daughter, as she was missing. After a few days of being married, Sirija realised that her husband was already married to another woman and her husband ran away. Sirija’s was then attacked and abused by the first wife, after which our Peacemaker in the area brought her for counselling at our counselling centre after she was facing great difficulty and sadness.


We are grateful to our peacemaker for bringing in Sirija for counselling.


From the first counselling session Sirija the counsellor was just listening, Communicating interest and warmth, lots of hope, empathy, positive affirmations and assurance of support was given.


Slowly after some time, the bond was slowly built and she started discussing the problems she faced with her husband. Slowly she was helped to calm down and help her to come to a more balanced state. The counsellor's focus was on her present physical and emotional health recovery by working on her daily routine.


Constant affirmation and the empathetic unconditional response of the Counsellor helped Sirija. For two weeks the counsellors only took care of her physical and emotional health. Slowly small changes started to reflect- she started eating and feeling more confident. In the next session, the counsellor worked with her by focusing on her thoughts, feelings and emotions and lots of affirmations, to bring in positive self-esteem.


Sirija has done multiple counselling sessions and is regaining her confidence.

Peacemaker training in Progress
Peacemaker training in Progress
Training in Progress
Training in Progress
Training in Progress
Training in Progress
Completion of Training Peacemakers
Completion of Training Peacemakers
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2021 has been a year of a fearless perseverant journey for My Choices Foundation. We continued to adapt and marched on to empower women and girls to make choices to live a life free of violence, abuse and exploitation - by providing much-needed support to survivors of gender-based violence. 

As of December 2021, we have provided counselling to 12,398 families through our team of 21 counsellors. We have created awareness among  1,35,789 women through 5,959 outreach programmes. These women are now equipped to help themselves and other women in the community in cases of gender-based violence. We have educated 93,272 young people through 1,882 School and College programmes. These students are now aware of gender-based violence, toxic masculinity, and patriarchy. These students have spearheaded change in communities by speaking out against gender-based discrimination within their families, communities and are trying to make slow but steady changes. We have also educated 1,796 young people with life-skills training through Shakti programmes and Asli programmes. These children now have a strong peer network which is a safe space for them to talk about their issues. Children have been empowered to identify issues in their communities and work to find a solution beneficial for all. 

Recognise, Report and Prevent Domestic Violence

Every year October is recognised as Domestic Violence Awareness Month for all of us to speak up about domestic violence, raise awareness, and support survivors who are affected. As a part of our campaign for Domestic Violence Awareness Month - Recognise, Report and Prevent Domestic Violence, we hosted a panel discussion on Awareness and Redressal for Domestic Violence in India. Here, we discussed with a distinguished panel -

- Awareness: Key for preventing domestic violence

- Importance of counselling for survivors and their families

- Legal support available for survivors in India

- Role of academics in helping achieve gender equality

- Men as allies in ending gender-based violence. 

You can watch the Panel discussion on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6k2vaeYW5g 

Journey of a survivor 

Sunita* arrived at our Safe Home after she was referred by the Police. She was distressed and sad. Sunita is 22 years old who was being verbally and physically abused by her mother and brother as they found out that she was in a relationship with a guy. Fearing continued abuse, Sunita broke up with her partner but the abuse continued. Her family continued to ill-treat her by calling her names, cutting access to necessities, not allowing her to leave the home, denying her education and much more. 

Sunita’s father tried to support her but was unable to stand up for her in front of his wife and son. Feeling dejected, Sunita attempted suicide. Fortunately, she survived. Sunita was taken to the hospital where was treated for her injuries and was later diagnosed with OCD and depression. After her diagnosis, she was further ostracised by her mother and brother. 

Failing to pay the fees of the colleges, she was asked to leave. Not knowing where to go, Sunita approached the Police for help who referred her to My Choices Foundation. She was counselled by an expert team of counsellors to understand the problems she is facing and the way forward. While she stayed at the Safe Home, she was also engaged in various activities to reduce her stress. Our team also took her to her regular health check-ups to help her through her recovery. Our team also contacted her parents and brothers and engaged in several counselling sessions with them to help them understand what Sunita was experiencing. 

Through the constant support of team our counsellors, Sunita finally felt in control of her life and decided to return home as her parents also promised to support her. Today she is happy and is on the road to recovery. 

*Name changed to protect the identity of the survivor. 

Dial 100, an initiative in partnership with the Telangana State Women Safety Wing

We are supporting Telangana State Police and Women’s Safety Wing in their initiative to provide counselling support to survivors of domestic violence who reach out for assistance via the Police Helpline Dial 100. We developed online counselling protocols and supported the training of counsellors who operate the Dial 100 helpline. This initiative is a step towards creating an institutional change for the support available to survivors of domestic violence in Telangana, India. 

As the new year begins, we steer forward with hope, courage and a deep determination to make India a safer place for its women and girls!

If you are a victim of domestic violence, please know that you are NOT alone. We are here for you.

If you are being subjected to domestic violence or are in an abusive relationship please call- 1800 212 9131, if it is unsafe to call leave us a message on WhatsApp/text- 9333 40 4141

 

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The period of COVID-19 has challenged each of us to think differently to reach out to those in need of help and support. We opened up our counselling centres and started offering both telephonic and in-personal counselling. We began online counselling sessions for women and families. Simultaneously, our army of PeaceMakers - local women trained to be first responders to domestic violence - reached out to women in their communities and ensured that the negative impact of lockdown was minimal. As of August 2021, our team has assisted more than 11,000 families to live free from violence and abuse.

Despite the struggles of the pandemic and the repeated lockdowns, survivors are reaching out to Operation PeaceMaker of My Choices Foundation for help from various sources. Our team assisted the women by:

  • helping them file complaints in the police station
  • helping them get access to medical services
  • assisting them through the process of acquiring a pass to move out of their homes in a time of crisis
  • helping them reach shelter homes
  • helping them get access to groceries and essential items
  • providing telephone counselling and legal advice

We are also conducting continuous follow-ups to ensure survivors are safe.

Feedback from survivors:

“My Choices Foundation gave me a variety of legal options about my situation which proved beneficial. They also provided the best support and guidance when I was at my lowest and helped me boost my confidence. Today, I am much stronger and better equipped to protect myself" - Homemaker|36

COVID-19 has impacted not only one’s physical but also mental and emotional health. People are dealing with loss at an unprecedented scale. To help deal with loss and grief in their lives, we also started COVID-19 counselling for people who are feeling anxious, depressed or going through grief. Through this voluntary initiative, we are trying to support families affected by the pandemic and help them through this difficult time. 

Awareness Programmes

The pandemic restricted field activities and hence we moved our operations online. We conducted webinars to create awareness about gender-based violence, mental health, toxic masculinity and much more. Specific WhatsApp groups were created to continuously engage with our beneficiaries and provide access to information about gender-based violence and necessary services. Slowly we have started entering the field with full precautions to conduct our awareness programmes and to reach the larger communities. As of August 2021, we have impacted more than 2,24,455 people through our awareness programmes. 

Feedback from beneficiaries: 

“I appreciate the work you and your team are doing nowadays. The posts you are sharing are really helpful. Posts related to COVID-19 safety are very helpful. Thank you for sharing didi, I will share with others.” - Firdous 

The emotional wellbeing of Police personnel during the pandemic 

It is difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle and also be worry-free when someone is going through the COVID-19 crisis. The uncertainty and worries related to the spreading of infection to other family members, especially elderly parents, pregnant staff or family members of the infected staff and disruption of routines, our lifestyles can impact our mental health. Rachakonda Commissionerate (Hyderabad, Telangana) under the leadership of the Rachakonda Commissioner of Police Mr Mahesh Bhagwath IPS initiated a Quarantine follow up for the staff of the Commissionerate who were tested positive for COVID-19 (mild and moderate cases). Staying isolated in homes can have varying impacts on every individual. To prevent any debilitating impact from this situation, we conducted regular follow-ups with all the staff members who were going through anxiety or serious health situations during this difficult time. Our team conducted follow-up calls to 307 police personnel daily until all of them tested negative. We conducted  2761 sessions with the police personnel to help them through these uncertain times. 

Feedback:

“My special thanks to the MCF team who succeeded to imbibe confidence at my depressive state once occurred.”-  Constable from the Rachakonda Commissionerate team.

Capacity Building for Counsellors

We firmly believe in upskilling our counsellors regularly while also providing them with safe spaces to relax and recuperate from the stressful and traumatic events they hear about daily. Capacity building and training are key elements to equip our counsellors with knowledge and skills in diverse areas that support them in their work. It improves the quality of counselling practices and emphasizes the importance of self-care while helping clients, looking to free themselves from domestic violence. 

Our team attended three capacity building programmes conducted by Dr Sukriti Kushwaha, Chief Psychologist and Director of Programs at Emancipation India Foundation -

  1. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  2. Suicide Assessment and Intervention
  3. Anger Management 

Feedback from our counsellor:

“The best of the training is the mix of theory and practice. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the exercises and when I applied, it showed great results. It helped to understand and solve our client’s problems as well as ours.”

Training Programme 

The Women's Wing of the Telangana State Police is launching a new project where women who dial the emergency number 100 in situations of distress will be redirected to an app for assistance. Volunteer Counsellors will be assigned to women who call through the app who will assist the caller. We are one of the training partners for this initiative. As a training partner, we have successfully trained 30 counsellors who will be assisting the callers through the app. This initiative will help to address domestic violence and cybercrimes prevalent in the community.

PeaceMaker Support

Our PeaceMakers are playing an indispensable role in providing support to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Some of our PeaceMakers have years of training with us which encourages them to go above and beyond their roles. PeaceMakers have been proactive in leveraging their position in the community to assist people in need. Through their assistance, we were able to identify women and families who required help and assisted the PeaceMakers with essential resources. They contacted all our beneficiaries to identify women who required assistance, pregnant women who were unable to access necessities or families infected with COVID-19 struggling for essential supplies. Our PeaceMaker coordinated with local authorities and the My Choices Foundation team to ensure help was provided. We assisted in the form of distribution of ration, providing monetary assistance through our Lotus Fund and a haven through our Safe Home. 

Our PeaceMakers play a vital role in our ability to reach the vulnerable communities in Hyderabad and Warangal. To help them continue their great work, we conduct drives to provide them with safety kits which include - N95 Masks, surgical masks, gloves, face shields and sanitisers. We distributed 40 safety kits among our 40 PeaceMakers who are actively involved in creating meaningful changes in the lives of women, children and families. Armed with the safety kit, the PeaceMakers are again entering the field safely and interacting with the community members to create awareness about domestic violence and the assistance available through counselling and helpline.

 

If you are a victim of domestic violence, please know that you are NOT alone. We are here for you.

If you are being subjected to domestic violence or are in an abusive relationship please call- 1800 212 9131, if it is unsafe to call leave us a message on WhatsApp/text- 9333 40 4141

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Domestic Violence Awareness Program in Rajasthan
Domestic Violence Awareness Program in Rajasthan

The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop us from providing survivors with free counselling, a safe home and legal assistance. Our counsellors continued to provide services through our counselling centres and via online/telephone counselling. As of April 2021, our team has assisted more than 11,000 families to live free from violence and abuse. Our team also leveraged online platforms to conduct multiple awareness programmes. Since January 2021 we have conducted multiple webinars on Awareness of Cyber Crime, Self Care, Gender and Patriarchy and Social Media Safety Norms. We also operate active Whatsapp groups with our beneficiaries where we share relevant information regarding COVID-19 protocols, domestic violence and child sexual abuse prevention and assistance. 

Our team has also proactively reached out to vulnerable communities in the remote pockets of the states of Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana and West Bengal to create awareness about domestic violence and child sexual abuse. We have conducted more than 800 awareness programmes since January 2021 and have impacted more than 14,000women, men, girls and boys. In many instances, people are unaware that domestic violence is an issue in itself and fail to report it due to the normalisation of violence in families. Our programmes have helped many women understand that domestic violence is an issue that prompted many women to reach out to our counsellors for assistance after attending our programmes. 

Our counsellors are dedicated to providing women and girls with the choice to live a life free from violence and abuse. They take every possible measure to ensure the survivor’s safety as well as their during this pandemic. In cases where the survivor is unable to reach our counsellor’s office, our counsellors also provide door-to-door assistance where they talk to the survivors in their homes whenever it is comfortable for them. 

Story from the field - 

Sarita’s walk to freedom 

Sarita* was married at 21. She didn’t know that her husband was an alcoholic when they got married. 11 years have passed with sleepless nights, broken bones and dried tears because of high levels of violence, harassment and abuse. When she was pregnant, she was badly beaten up by her husband and in-laws. Her mobile phone and money were snatched and she was pushed out of her home in the middle of the night. With no money, she stayed by the door all night. 

Hearing about the situation from neighbours, her parents arrived and took her to their place. After the delivery, the two families met and counselled Sarita’s husband. He assured both families that he wouldn’t be violent anymore. But it didn’t even last for two weeks. Sarita felt helpless and suicidal but accepted it as her fate. The situation worsened and she attempted suicide, but she was saved at the hospital. She moved to her parent’s home and found a job at a supermarket. Since her husband’s harassment continued, she approached a lawyer for help. But the lawyer took her money and disappeared. She was completely shattered and had no idea what to do next.

That’s when she came into contact with one of the PeaceMakers in the community. PeaceMaker enabled her to speak to the Counsellor. After hours and days of counselling, she understood the negative impacts of domestic violence – it was a journey of discovery as well as a ray of hope for her.

Sarita gathered courage and with the help of our legal team, filed a case of domestic violence and felt empowered enough to want to put an end to the relationship. She has taken steps to settle the matter amicably through mutual consent and is all set to start a new life free from violence, abuse and exploitation. Now, she lives peacefully with her lovely two daughters. She inspires women in her community to speak up against violence and shows that women can lead a peaceful life once we stand up for ourselves. 

 

If you are a victim of Domestic Violence, please know that you are NOT alone. We are here for you.

If you are being subjected to domestic violence or are in an abusive relationship please call- 1800 212 9131, if it is unsafe to call leave us a message on WhatsApp/text- 9333 40 4141

 

Domestic Violence Awareness Program in West Bengal
Domestic Violence Awareness Program in West Bengal
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Organization Information

My Choices

Location: Hyderabad, Telangana - India
Website:
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Twitter: @mychoicesfdn
Project Leader:
My Choices Foundation
Hyderabad, Telangana India
$61 raised of $10,000 goal
 
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