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
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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Expansion of our services 

The rise of domestic violence cases during the pandemic highlights the importance of Operation PeaceMaker in providing free counseling services to women and conducting awareness programs to help people understand the harm of domestic violence within their communities. The COVID-19 Pandemic accelerated the need to expand beyond the state of Telangana and was the driving force to reach the many families that have experienced severe abuse due to the lockdown. We focus on providing feasible solutions for women and solutions which respect their choices and needs since domestic violence is a sensitive issue. 

By combining our years of experience in domestic violence counseling and our flagship Safe Village Programs (part of our Anti-Trafficking operation), as well as our use of technology and domestic violence helpline, we use our unique counseling model and make this service available through our partners across the states of Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Maharastra. 

Through our expansion, we are providing counseling services to women and families facing gender-based violence in remote locations along with our operations in Hyderabad, Telangana. We are also conducting awareness programs in the community to help them understand the issue of domestic violence, the cycle of abuse, and redressal mechanisms in place for families facing these issues. We leave behind our toll-free helpline number which people can contact for assistance in cases of domestic violence- 1800 212 9131. We also operate a helpline- 9333 40 4141 for people who cannot call but can text/WhatsApp us.

Prevention Activities 

Since October 2020, we have conducted more than 450 awareness programs across the states of Telangana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, and Jharkhand. Through these programs, we impacted more than 10,000 women, men, and children. Due to the pandemic, we moved our operations online and conducted webinars on Gender and patriarchy, the Impact of Domestic Violence on Youth, Healthy Relationships, Suicide Prevention, and Domestic Violence Awareness. These webinars were well received and were attended by more than 300 participants. 

Mamta* who attended one of the webinars said, I was shocked and surprised to hear about so many forms of violence. Maybe as I was living in a world where violence is normalized, I had no idea that I play a major role in countering it too. Every topic addressed here reminds me of my personal life and the small incidents I ignored assuming it was normal. Thank you for making me understand that violence of any form is not normal, it is the first step to something brutal." 

We partnered with Umeed for Women to create YouTube videos on Domestic Violence and Reaching out for help during the pandemic. These videos were created in Hindi, Telugu, and Bengali. 

Confidential Quiz

We have developed a Quiz in partnership with Merlynn Intelligence Technologies. This online quiz was released during the COVID-19 lockdown. This quiz helps in understanding whether the person is in a healthy relationship or not. In the last three months, more than 80 people have taken the quiz and many of them approached Operation PeaceMaker for further assistance. 

Counseling Services

We have continued to provide our services through online/telephone counseling. With the drop in the COVID-19 cases, our team started to ease into the offices while taking maximum precautions. 

Survivor Story - 

After four years of marriage, Trisha* could not bear it anymore. She was unable to live in a household where she was being constantly demeaned. 

Trisha, 24 years old had been married to Kartik* for the past 4 years. They have a 3-year-old son. According to Trisha, at the time of their marriage, she was told by her now-husband that he is a post-graduate and earns well. Post marriage she found that everything was a lie, he was unemployed and suffers from psychological and sexual issues. 

Trisha had a difficult time living with Kartik’s family since her mother-in-law would constantly accuse her of being stingy even though she was the sole contributor to the finances of the household. Her father-in-law was an alcoholic and would constantly demean her for everything she did. Her brother-in-law was sick and had been hospitalized due to his unresponsive kidneys. Trisha and her sister-in-law supported the entire treatment financially and she was still blamed for not contributing towards the household expenditure. Unfortunately, during the treatment, her brother-in-law did not survive and Trisha was blamed for his death. Trisha was heartbroken by the blame. To add to her problems, her husband accused her of infidelity. Kartik refused to believe that he is the biological father to their son.

Unable to bear the nagging and criticism, she approached Operation PeaceMaker of My Choices Foundation for help. The counselor assisted her by conducting various exercises to help her better understand herself as well as her relationship with her husband and his family. Her journey towards understanding her self-worth was long and challenging. The counselor conducted various sessions with Trisha- trauma counseling, understanding relationships, and understanding self. Eventually, the exercise that resonated the most with Trisha was the one with an Rs. 200 note. The counselor showed Trisha the note and asked her its value, it was Rs. 200. Then the counselor crumpled the note and asked Trisha the value of the note again, it was still Rs. 200. The value of the note remained unchanged, irrespective of it being crumpled. Through this exercise, the counselor explained that Trisha’s value does not decrease or change because of the various problems she is facing in her life. This encouraged Trisha to choose her well-being over others. She decided to leave her husband as he did not respect, care, or love her. 

Operation PeaceMaker’s counselor’s constant follow-up and counseling sessions helped Trisa realize her worth and also helped her make decisions about her life. Through the various sessions our counselor conducted,  Trisha regained her confidence and self-worth while discarding the internalized misogyny. 

 

*Name changed to protect identify

Domestic Violence Awareness Program
Domestic Violence Awareness Program

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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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