Support Abused Women in India

by Seva Mandir
Support Abused Women in India

Dear Friend,

Thank you so much for supporting our Shelter home  – fighting against injustice and violence against women.

In the area of Seva Mandir’s work (Tribal areas) there are no institutional centers that can directly provide help to the abused women. In an effort to rectify this Seva Mandir's Short Stay Home was established in 2004 and since then it has represented an anchorage for women seeking refugee from abuse and violence, giving them access to safety and justice.

Each women that comes to the Shelter home comes from an extremely toxic environment that is psychologically damaging and some are even unable to share their experiences. Seva Mandir’s Shelter home provides psychological counseling to overcome their trauma. Legal counseling and financial counseling are also provided to the distressed women to overcome the situation.

Karishma (name changed) a woman living in our shelter says : “The shelter home has helped me when my own parents could not take a stand against the injustice towards me.  Being here has given a new direction to my life.”

Like Karishma, in the past fourteen years, many women were given shelter along with their children. Due to prolonged harassment and violence, most women coming to the Short Stay Home are depressed, hence various activities are undertaken to help them come out of this. Also they are connected to economic activities so that they can lead a respectable life later.

We thank you for your support in helping women like Karishma to restart their lives in a dignified way.

Regards

Atul Lekhra and the Seva Mandir Team

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Dear Friend

I hope that you and your loved ones are keeping well.

Whilst much of Europe and North America are still shivering through one of the longest cold Winters on record, Spring has most definitely arrived in Rajasthan.

2018 sees the 50th anniversary of Seva Mandir and while we have many achievements to reflect upon there are constant and changing challenges. With stories of sexual abuse still abounding in the media in the western world, it seems hardly surprising to discover that there has actually been an increase in the rate of violence and abuse towards women and girls in India, as well as an even more worrying increase in human trafficking. Here, unlike in other parts of the world, male violence against women continues to be routinely excused and downplayed.

Girls are still married off at a younger age than the law allows and once they have left their family home they become the ‘responsibility’ of their husband and his family. Often illiterate and used to working on the land, this new married life is accompanied by drudgery as well as bearing children – having girl babies is still highly undesirable.

Alcoholism amongst the men causes further problems and leads to violence and abuse. These young women rarely have anyone to speak to, no one to listen or give them advice. Once they have left their own family unit, they are expected to remain with their husband and his family, who treat her as little more than a slave and sometimes are also abusive. With nowhere to turn, and because of stigma and humiliation, they continue to put up with this terrible life. Until, one day, it just all becomes too much to bear …

The following is a view from an English volunteer- Gabrielle who has spent the past four months with us and who has visited our refuge on several occasions.

“It’s extremely difficult not to get emotional when visiting Seva Mandir’s short-stay home, when you hear some of the sad tales that have resulted in these young women fleeing their home. I have wiped away many tears from my eyes whilst listening to their stories.

“One young girl had run away in the middle of the night and was found by a rickshaw driver who knew of the refuge. He had risked retribution from the girl’s husband and family by taking her to safety. She later told staff that if the rickshaw driver had not found her that she would have ended her life that night.

“But rather than dwell on these sad tales, I wanted to tell you about the happy times I spent there. During their stay, there is a joyous atmosphere as the girls and women are freed momentarily from their cares.

“Much laughter and leg-pulling at how strong one tribal woman was in comparison to her urban ‘sister’ whilst stirring a vast bowl, mixing up washing detergent to sell. This is part of the piece-work they have – on one visit the grassy play area was covered in plastic waste bins ready for wrapping. They are able to earn modest amounts of money which they save.

“There is a small kitchen garden where they grow some of their own food and they take it in turn to cook in the communal kitchen. The children have swings and slides and a jolly frieze was painted along the walls by past volunteers.

“I came away feeling blessed that I live in a society that is now finally naming and shaming sexual abusers and dealing with them severely. Seva Mandir has an enormous uphill struggle, but with everything they have been doing in the last 50 years, with your help, I sense that they will continue the battle, one step at a time.

Thank you for your support!”

Regards

Atul Lekhra and the Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir 

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Dear Friend,

Let me start out by wishing you and your loved ones the season’s greetings.

Abuse on any level is bad enough.  But abuse, whether it is violence, torture or mental abuse of some of the most vulnerable women in our society is unacceptable.

These women have faced horrendous situations that have scarred them for life, both mentally and physically.  They have no-one to turn to for help, not even their own family.  They and their children seem all alone in this world.

According to the United Nations Population Fund Report, around two-thirds of married Indian women are victims of domestic violence.  This is the reported data, but there are many more cases which go unreported because women are afraid of raising their voice as they have nowhere to go to escape from their abusers.

It is almost impossible to imagine the courage and bravery it takes for them to finally leave their home, with the knowledge that their future will be uncertain, not knowing if they can survive alone, but at the very least hoping that they would be safe from bodily harm or even death.

Seva Mandir supports a ‘safe house’ – a place for these terrified women and their children to find shelter.  With your help, we can provide counselling and a place of safety amongst caring ‘sisters’.  They may never get over what has happened to them but these women and children should not be denied a chance and a future.  They deserve better and they deserve to be safe.

Sujata (name changed) a woman living in our shelter says : “The shelter home has helped me when my own parents could not take a stand against the injustice towards me.  Being here has given a new direction to my life.”

It is because of you that we have been able to create a safe haven for the abused women in the Udaipur district.  They can now raise their voice with confidence.  With your help, we can give them a future !

I also wanted to tell you that we have been selected by the GlobalGiving Foundation to participate in its Accelerator – a fundraising opportunity for nonprofits around the world.

In order to succeed, we must raise $5,000 from 40 donors by end of this month and we are only $500 away from reaching the goal.

If we meet this threshold, we will be featured on GlobalGiving’s website and could earn bonus prizes from GlobalGiving for raising the most money.

Please help us reach the goal !  

We would love to hear from you.  Please do reach out to us at atul.lekhra@sevamandir.org

Thank you, as always, for your continued support.

With warm wishes,

Atul Lekhra and the Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir

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Thank you so much for supporting our Short Stay Home programme – fighting against injustice and violence against women. Many women who leave an abusive life lack support from their family or community. Analysis of the cases handled by the Short Stay Home shows that reporting of violence is increasing and that a high percentage of women are abused by their own families for various reasons. Our Short Stay Home for women and girls provides a safe haven for these women and their children, and offers counseling and legal advice.

Juhi (name changed) got married when she was in 10th grade (around the age of 16). Her husband was an alcoholic and used to beat her often. Juhi refused to tolerate this violence and returned to her parents' house after a year. She then sat the 12 grade exams and passed. Her husband found her and convinced her to return home. But things didn't improve much. He continued to behave violently so she fled once more to her parents' house. She then had the opportunity to attend a five-day training course on gender and life skills conducted by Seva Mandir. As her husband continued to harass her she decided to not to return to his house. Juhi was then persuaded by the youth leaders and Seva Mandir staff started looking for a job for her. She has now found a job and is currently working in Udaipur. She is one among the many women who are supported by Seva Mandir.

This is just one of the stories of cruelty and abuse affecting women living at the Short Stay Home. However, the reality is more often difficult to face, especially when violence becomes endemic and it's fuelled by social diseases such as alcoholism.

Your contribution has already been an essential factor in helping us making a difference, as many women has been supported legally, economically and emotionally. With your precious support we have been and we will able to translate Seva Mandir's commitment into a meaningful change, thus helping women to get out from the spiral of gender and domestic violence.

We do hope for your continued support to our Shelter Home. If your travel brings you to this part of the world, please do consider visiting Seva Mandir.

With Best Regards

Atul Lekhra and Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on facebook www.facebook.com/sevamandir

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Nisha interacting with women in Short Stay Home
Nisha interacting with women in Short Stay Home

‘Peaceful, quietly tucked away from the road, is Seva Mandir’s Short Stay Home. Beautiful paintings adorn the walls and the kitchen garden is an oasis of green.

Inside we meet Nisha. She’s been dedicated to the Short Stay Home since it was opened in 2004.

“I am so involved with the lives of these women. Some women who arrive are so badly beaten… I can’t help but bring these thoughts home with me. It disturbs me. I always ask – ‘What more can I do?’ I want to solve the problems of these women.”

On the kitchen wall, a rota in Hindi outlines the daily menu and the cook. The women here share the tasks of running the home. Nisha ensures everyone is busy, their minds away from what that have suffered. In the evening they play badminton or football, and then watch a film together or sit and sing songs. Many go out to work during the day, and a former resident runs a creche to help with childcare.

Nisha is with the women from the beginning. Thanks to employment and training advice at the Home, many women now work in childcare, in domestic work, or at malls around the city; some are taking courses in computing or beauty therapy. Others are happily back with their families thanks to Seva Mandir’s interventions.

Such is her dedication that Nisha recently completed her law degree, so that she can give legal advice to the women at the Short Stay Home – advising them on the rights on property, divorce and their children.

While we sit talking, a woman phones to invite Nisha to Eid celebrations in her village. The women here share everything with Nisha, big and small.

It hasn’t been easy. Recently, the husband of a young woman started stalking his wife at the Short Stay Home, and threatening the staff.

“He was watching my house. He told me “I see you, I know where you live, I know your children.” He had become so obsessed that he left his job,” Nisha says. Thankfully, they were able to intervene and stop the man.

Nisha is inspired seeing how the women transform – after training, activities, finding work. She loves to see their confidence and independence grow.

She told us the story of Pooja (name changed), a young woman who came to live at the Short Stay Home after leaving her abusive husband and being rejected by her community. When she arrived, she lacked confidence and very much relied on those who had let her down.

“Pooja came to the Short Stay Home feeling that she couldn’t do anything. Since coming here her mentality has totally changed,” Nisha explains. “She realised that she didn’t need her husband, parents or community to be something, and that she can do things for herself.”

Thanks to support from Nisha and the Short Stay Home, Pooja is in her final year of university studying Fashion and Textile design, and is working in a boutique. She is confident and independent, and doesn’t rely on anyone but herself.

Thank you so much for helping Nisha and her team change the lives of women like Pooja.’

The above views, insights are shared by Lydia Walker, who recently visited our Short Stay Home. Lydia is from London and joined Seva Mandir as a volunteer. She had always been interested in the social sector and wanted to spend a few months volunteering in India.

We are happy to share with you that we had recently participated in the GlobalGiving Photo Contest 2017 and our photo secured 1st position in the Hope category. All thanks to friends like you who had voted for our photo and helped us win the contest.

We are also excited to share with you that, we are participating in GlobalGiving’s HER VOICE campaign. Till August 8th, GlobalGiving will match every donation received to our project by 50%. The link to our project page is https://goo.gl/oiz9GY.

Every small bit, no matter how small helps us reach closer to our goal. We do hope that you will continue to support our project. This matching fund campaign will help your contribution go deeper.

Best Wishes,

Atul Lekhra and Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir 

Confident and Brave Nisha
Confident and Brave Nisha

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Organization Information

Seva Mandir

Location: Udaipur, Rajasthan - India
Website:
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Twitter: @sevamandir
Project Leader:
Ronak Shah
Udaipur, Rajasthan India
$34,680 raised of $90,000 goal
 
593 donations
$55,320 to go
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