Many women who leave an abusive household lack support from their family or community. A short stay home then provides women and girls a safe place to live, and offers counseling and legal advice. It is an integral component of Seva Mandir’s strategy to deal with violence against women and is therefore a very important intervention.
Rekha (name changed) is one among the many women who are supported by Seva Mandir. She was born in Chittorgarh in 1993. She has a master’s degree in political science. After falling in love with Ramesh, she eloped with him on the 5th of March, 2016. After getting married, they returned to his home. That is where problems began. Because she belonged to a different caste, his family ostracized her. Particularly, his sister, Geeta, was not happy about their marriage. She would constantly use derogatory language with Rekha. If they were ever together in a room, her sister would accuse her of trapping Ramesh. Her sister would additionally try creating problems between Rekha and Ramesh. She would feed Ramesh false information about Rekha having affairs, and telling him that Rekha would beat her. This created tension in their marriage. Rekha was very unhappy and emotionally distraught, because she would always be spoken to in a condescending manner, from morning until night.
Then finally, one day Geeta forced Ramesh to file for divorce. She told her brother that if he didn’t sign the papers, she would kill herself; he needed to choose between his sister and his wife. He signed the papers. Therefore, Rekha was left homeless. Her family wouldn’t take her back in because she left home without their approval.
This represents a larger issue that reoccurs often. Inter-caste love marriages are common amongst the women who come, stay at the Short Stay Home. It is viewed as a societal problem, which often results in these women getting kicked out of their home, and not being able to return to their childhood home.
Therefore, these ladies seek shelter through Seva Mandir at the Short Stay Home. Rekha has now been staying at the Short Stay Home for 2 months. With the help and guidance of Seva Mandir, she is now in the process of studying to take an exam for a job in the police force, which has always been her dream. With the support of the staff members at the Short Stay Home, she has been able to create the dream, of getting a job and home of her own. At the Short Stay Home, she is provided with shelter, food, counseling, and education guidance.
Like Rekha, in the past twelve 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 continuous support in helping women like Rekha to restart their lives in a dignified way.
Atul Lekhra and Seva Mandir Team
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