| Jun 11, 2015
Fighting the odds
awareness workshops about domestic violence
Rekha (Name changed) met Sanjeev in May 2011 through a common friend. Later that year, Sanjeev asked for her hand in marriage. They married in April 2012 and a year later Rekha gave birth to a baby boy.
A sudden turn of events ensued one day as Rekha discovered that her husband had taken and hidden her son from her. Petrified, Rekha made several desperate attempts to find her baby, even reaching out to her husband’s family in hopes of some reconciliation. Unfortunately, her husband had no intention of making amends and neither did his family make any efforts to contact her.
Terrified that her husband, a heavy drinker, may have caused harm to the new born baby, Rekha contacted the local police. However to her dismay she did not receive any relief when reaching out to police officials and other authorities.
Alas, Maitri came to Rekha’s aid by providing resources and legal counseling. With the guidance of this counselor, Rekha filed a petition in the District Court under Section 12 of the Protection of the Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005. This petition calls for custody of an infant child (60 days old) who has been forcefully separated from the mother. Since her husband and his family failed to make an appearance in court, she was able to file a formal written order petition. The Court passed the order in favour of Rekha through which she finally gained custody of her baby. Although an order was also passed to file a case against all the accused persons, the police unfortunately did not take any due course of action.
Nonetheless, the victory of Rekha in being reunited with her child represents a triumph for all mothers in such dire situations. Despite stark opposition from her husband and his family, she stood her ground with support from her family and assistance from Maitri. Rekha fought all odds to be reunited with her child.
Though physical assault did not mold Rekha’s story, her situation remains another form of oppression against women. Violence against women is an epidemic in India. About once every five minutes an incident of domestic violence, defined as "cruelty by husband or his relatives,” is reported in India’s Crime Records Bureau. In spite of marked changes and efforts at the individual, community and institutional levels, the issue of domestic violence remains prevalent at large. Contributing factors include, but are not limited to: a patriarchal mindset, dowry demands, a culture of silence, and lack of awareness.
Through Project Samvedana, meaning compassion, Maitri envisions a world in which violence against women is prevented and ultimately ends. Seemingly an ambitious goal, domestic violence must be prioritised in order to promote gender equality and empower women to stand on their own two feet.
Maitri’s initiatives include: (1) eliminating domestic violence; (2) engaging males in combating domestic violence; (3) creating awareness; and (4) creating women leaders that are empowered to take this movement forward.
Over the past few months Maitri has held several awareness-building workshops about gender-based violence. In attendance were over 200 women, many of which were wives of officers of the armed forces. Approximately 400 youth including officers were also present for the workshops covering the differing forms in which violence against women can manifest. The workshops concluded with an interactive discussion about the recognition and prevention of violence against women.
In collaboration with Maitrigram, another organizational initiative, Project Samvedana has also been working to impart skills and instill confidence in women and children through English-speaking and sewing classes. In addition to language skills building classes, both for Hindi and English, women of several local bastis (slums) have been able to take part in stitching and tailoring classes in the hopes of gaining confidence to secure employment or obtain loans to establish their own tailoring units.
As part of our endeavor to equip our team on the issue of dealing with prevenion of domestic violence, Maitri supported one of our staff to attend a training organized by Jagori Grameen on Gender based Violence and Domestic Violence Act 2013 in May 2015. People from different organizations were present at the training from all over India and Nepal. The training focused on creating awareness about perceived gender roles in our society and growing violence at homes. The training helped our coworker to get a detailed and vast knowledge on what domestic violence is and what precautions and measures has to be taken when it happens. It helped in providing information to how Domestic Violence is understood and defined under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2013. Various activities during the workshop helped the participants to understand and explore the multiple meanings to Domestic Violence by drawing from personal and professional experiences.
Maitri hopes to establish similar language and stitching classes towards the end of June 2015 in the slum of Sonia Vihar, gathering funds for more sewing machines. With these endeavors Maitri hopes to educate girls and women about their rights in a society that renders powerless women like Rekha. Maitri hopes to act as a voice to those who have not yet gained the strength to project their own voice.
Thank you for supporting Maitri's efforts to prevent domestic violence against women in India thus far. Your contribution has been key in helping us make a difference and we look forward to your sustained partnership to ensure that we can translate Maitri's commitments into meaningful change.
Gaining confidence to secure employment
Encouraging young girls to be educated
Gaining confidence to secure employment