Stop gender-based violence (GBV) in India

by Snehalaya 'Home of Love'
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Stop gender-based violence (GBV) in India
Stop gender-based violence (GBV) in India
Stop gender-based violence (GBV) in India
Stop gender-based violence (GBV) in India
Stop gender-based violence (GBV) in India
Stop gender-based violence (GBV) in India
Stop gender-based violence (GBV) in India
Naina is back on track
Naina is back on track

Thank you so much for your support of women experiencing discrimination. When we pick up our helpline phones we never know what to expect but with your support we are able to address all issues faced by those in need of our help.

Twenty-two-year-old Naina is one such beneficiary. A disabled girl from Nagpur, her parents died when she was very young and she has no brothers or sisters. After her parents' death, her father's sister took care of her and she began to call her mother.

She lived with her aunty in many places, including Ahmednagar for a few years, so she was familiar with our home city. Unfortunately, her aunt also abandoned her, leaving her in the care of another aunt, who beat her and made her eat and sleep outside the house. One day, Naina was severely beaten, her Aadhar card, bank passbook, and disability certificate were snatched away and she was kicked out of the house. Some sympathetic neighbours offered Naina a train ticket and money, telling her to go anywhere else.

So Naina's journey to Snehalaya began as she boarded a train to Ahmednagar. No one helped her and when she ran out of money she started begging at the railway station. One day, the railway police gave her Rs 200 and told her to leave the station. Naina took a rickshaw to a hotel where the owner gave her the job of washing dishes in return for accommodation and meals. Although the owner was paying Naina she didn’t take the money, insisting a place to stay and food was enough for her. Naina worked there for a few months, but the hotel owner's wife took a dislike to her and Naina decided to leave. The hotel owner gave her a small mobile phone and told her to call if she had any problems.

Naina found housework for the next five years, but her disability meant her work was irregular and finally she took a rickshaw to Kedgaon. She started begging again at a temple until she remembered she had lived there before. Realising she knew the name of the place she had stayed she got in a rickshaw. She arrived at the location of the home where Chetan Barde of the Police found her. He called the house owner who recognised her and gave her a room temporarily. Chetan Barde also called Snehadhar, telling us everything that had happened and asked for our help.

Two of our team went to meet and help Naina. Seeing she was disabled, they contacted our sister organization, Anamprem who sent an ambulance to bring her to their center where she is now living safely and happily.

Every penny you donate counts towards transforming lives of so many vulnerable women and girls, thak you. This July Bonus day those pennies go even further with all donations made on 20 July being matched by GlobalGiving. Any anount you can send will go a long way in empowering more women like Naina.

Save the date
Save the date

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Our 24/7 helpline takes calls like this every day
Our 24/7 helpline takes calls like this every day

Thank you so much for your support. You are helping so many women experiencing violence and neglect through your support of our work.

For example, last November, a social worker contacted our Snehadhar team about a 36-year-old pregnant woman in Sonai who needed our help. Reaching the police station, our team took over responsibility for her, immediately finding her to be eight months pregnant.

With COVID restrictions in place at the time, she was first admitted to our Caring Friend's Hospital, spending eight days in quarantine. She was not very coherent and was constantly referring to her family but could not give her husband's full name. She explained that she had left home after a quarrel and, being uneducated, had no money or identification.

After quarantine, she was placed in our long-term women's shelter, where she started mingling, laughing, and playing with the women. One day, all the woman's bags were checked, and the team found receipts for the woman and her husband along with a copy of her mother's Aadhar card. This helped us locate her mother's village in Aurangabad District. We were able to call her cousin, who told us she had run away from home two to three years ago. Unfortunately, we were also told her mother could not take care of her daughter, and no one else was ready to take care of her either.

We decided to focus on the search for her husband, and although she had no other information, she did mention Pimpalgaon village. We took the help of the police to find out more about the town, but they drew a blank. Looking back over the receipts we had found, we were able to find another address and make contact with someone from that village. We were told that the woman's husband was mentally ill and had not been seen for ten days. Meanwhile, her pregnancy was advancing, and after 15 days in Snehalaya, she was admitted to a private hospital for three days.

The woman's behavior changed dramatically; she started singing loudly, laughing out loud, jumping on her bed, blabbering, and trying to run away from the project. She was diagnosed as mentally ill. We searched for organizations working for psychiatric patients who may be able to help her, but none were willing to take her until after she had delivered her baby.

After giving birth to her baby girl child in a private hospital in Ahmednagar, we took her back to our shelter for one month's recovery time. Finally, we were able to admit her to Amrutvahini Sanstha for psychiatric treatment. We continue to visit her to check in on her significant progress, and she is looking forward to being reunited with her daughter, who is currently still in our care.

Your support means we can help this omwan and child and hundreds more like them. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts, we couldn;t do any of this without supporters like you. 

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Hitting the airwaves
Hitting the airwaves

Since we last wrote to you, many of you have donated as part of the Just Bollywood event in December. The team at Imperial College London Indian Society’s annual inter-university dance competition saw 10 universities battle it out at Queen Mary’s People’s Palace, displaying an amazing range of talent and raising over £5,000 to support our projects. As well as raising funds, the event gave us a unique opportunity to directly engage with the Indian diaspora in the UK and established and emerging talent in the dance world.

Our Snehalaya UK trustees Harshna Karsan and Phil Hudson were able to attend the unforgettable evening sharing information on our projects to the audience and having the honour of announcing the winners. Congratulations and a huge thank you to all taking part.

Our children were also able to participate, submitting their own dance videos as part of the Mini-round competition which they loved taking part in and proved popular with the competitors! We were absolutely thrilled to have been able to take part in such a dazzling, energetic and fun event and are extremely grateful to the organisers and dancers for choosing Snehalaya to support in such an entertaining and unique way. 

Donations to events like this and this project are helping young women like Geeta. Geeta lost her father at such a very young age she doesn’t have any memories of him. While her mother was alive, Gita and her sister were supported by their relatives and lived first with their maternal uncle and then with her paternal family. She was still in primary school when her mother also passed away and her relatives stopped supporting the girls. Her grandfather had left home to follow a spiritual calling and so their grandmother was left to care for the sisters alone. The responsibility and financial burden was overwhelming for her and she did not know how she would manage.

When Geeta’s sister also died, things turned from bad to worse and her grandmother who was getting old wanted to find a safe and secure place for Geeta who was now almost 16. They both visited our Rehab Center in 2017, just after Geeta completed her 10th standard, and felt that this was the right place for her. Geeta adjusted well to life in our Home of Love, enrolling in junior college while simultaneously completing our bedside nursing assistant course and joining in with clay art at our Earth Studio. After completing her 12th Standard in arts we helped her to enroll for a degree in social work at a college in our neighbouring district of Beed. Then the Corona pandemic hit and Geeta was forced to return to Snehalaya and continue her studies through online classes and tutorials. At the same time, she also volunteered to help our Snehadhar warden in her daily responsibilities.

On a visit to our community radio, Radio Nagar 90.4FM, she was fascinated by the way the radio jockeys talked and how the songs were broadcast and she loved the way things worked there. As a regular radio listener to she felt that she could also be a radio jockey. She discussed the idea with her hostel warden and some senior staff who readily agreed to give her a go.

Geeta joined the radio team as a full-time intern and she was a fast learner soon getting to grips with all aspects of running a radio station. Geeta says, “I realised that becoming an RJ was not that simple and required a lot of understanding and hard work. I have since learnt how to find information on the net, write scripts and speak like an RJ. This requires a lot of reading and exploring, modulating my voice so that I don’t sound boring and even keeping my talk precise.”


Since joining the station in August, Geeta has developed so many skills and is now independently recording a program which shares information about the latest happenings at Snehalaya. She also gives her voice to social promotions and on 25 October, Geeta broadcast her first live program and was really happy with the way it went. Being a radio jockey work has given Geeta a lot of confidence, and the skills to be independent and move ahead in life. She still aims to complete her BSW followed by a Masters in Social Work, but she is also excited to follow her passion to be a successful radio jockey. With her strong determination we are sure that she will achieve both. Her hope is that she will become financially independent and able to support her grandmother who she still misses a lot.

Thank you so much for chosing to support our inceredible women, it means so much to us all! 

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Literacy skills for sex workers
Literacy skills for sex workers

Since March 2020, lockdown measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have exposed further inequities and vulnerabilities of women with an increasing prevalence of violence against women and girls. Such violence has been referred to as the ‘Shadow Pandemic’ or a ‘pandemic within a pandemic’ with significant increases in domestic violence, child marriages, sexual abuse and trafficking of women and girls in India.

A sudden spike of child marriages in Ahmednagar District has seen us stop around 100 child marriages in collaboration with allied agencies. All the girls rescued from these forced marriages were in the age group of 13 to 17 years. Suspension of regular school activities, loss of jobs, deteriorating financial conditions of families of farmers and others in rural areas, and restrictions on the wedding activities are the many reasons for the alarming rising number of child marriages. The trend is bound to continue as the pandemic prevails and restrictions continue.

When Corona virus reached India many of our sex workers chose to reduce their risks by stopping working, those who continued were soon forced to do the same due to lockdown restrictions. As a result, many have sought our support to help them find alternative work which our teams provide through vocational training, start-up support for small businesses and help finding other jobs.

Although the Indian family as a social institution is well known for the emotional and physical support it provides to its extended members, often the support of immediate or extended families is not readily available due to the economic instability of the family, the breakdown of the joint family system or the social bias, attitudes and values attached to marginalised women. During the pandemic, restricted movement means families are living together in cramped conditions which has led to an increase in conflict and domestic as well as sexual violence.

The shadow pandemic is reflected in an increased demand for our support ranging from women experiencing domestic violence requesting shelter and support via our helpline to an increase in the reported numbers and preventions of child marriages by our Childline teams. With families confined to their homes, there was also an increase in sexual abuse both with women and girls, often from family members, that have resulted in an increased number of rape victims and unmarried mothers accessing our support.

Thank you for your support in empowering women and girls, we can't do it without you!

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Organization Information

Snehalaya 'Home of Love'

Location: Ahmednagar, Maharashtra - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Snehalaya
Project Leader:
Joyce Connolly
Ahmednagar, Maharashtra India
$10,882 raised of $25,000 goal
 
309 donations
$14,118 to go
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