The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for women across the world, many of whom are now locked in their homes with their abusers. In India, the National Commission for Women has reported an increase in cases of domestic violence, rape, and attempted rape since mid-March 2020 when the lockdown came into effect.
Though the lockdown had required the temporary closure of our Counseling Centers, our counselors and legal experts were still working and using our digital tools (helpline) to reach out to women who were in need of help. With the ease in restrictions, our counselors have moved back to the office, while taking the necessary precautions, to help the women on their journey from victims to survivors. We have also begun the expansion of our services beyond the state of Telangana by training counselors in the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Rajasthan.
COUNSELING AND LEGAL ASSISTANCE
Our counseling and legal teams are:
- In constant touch with our existing clients with prior appointments with us and are conducting regular follow-ups to ensure that they are safe and supplied with essential goods required during the lockdown. We have received more than 300 news cases (June 2020 to August 2020) and have conducted more than 1500 sessions to assist survivors.
- Operating our helpline number (+91 9333 40 4141) to anyone who requires support, encouragement, and assistance that they need during these difficult times. We also introduced our national toll-free helpline number (1800 212 9131) for domestic violence victims. We received calls/messages from more than 40 women who were in distress and needed our help.
- Helped 9 women, who came to our Lotus Safe Home for shelter during a time of crisis. We helped these women and children with the filing of FIR at Police stations, providing medical support, counseling services, child care, and accompanied them to Police Stations for moral and emotional support.
Due to the constraints caused by COVID- 19, we moved all our prevention activities online. We are conducting our school and college awareness programs via Zoom. Topics like gender-based violence, toxic masculinity, patriarchy, cybercrime, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse were covered in these online sessions. Our team also created more than 50 WhatsApp groups with vulnerable people, students, and women to share vital information regarding gender-based violence and conducting sessions on the same. My Choices Foundation also collaborated with a school in Hyderabad to conduct a national level webinar on “ Gender concerns during a pandemic- Safeguarding our well-being”, which was attended by more than 200 teachers and students.