AWAJ - Violence
VAW (Violence Against Women) and girls has become a central issue for women’s movement. In the context of India, in the last decade, there is an unprecedented increase in the recorded data on VAW. The declining sex-ratio in India, particularly in some districts across different states, reveals an increased amount of illegal sex selective abortions. This is a clear indication of entrenched patriarchies and increasing violence against women.
During the last 10 years of our involvement in the community, we came to grapple with the hidden nature of VAW as well as women’s denial of their own violation. Initially, it was not easy to find cases of violence. There was an effort by the patriarchal voices to convince that there was peace in homes.
However, as women’s collectives started becoming strong, women began telling different stories and the domestic violence started becoming visible. It was often justified as an issue of drinking, not misogyny. Only drunken men beat their wives. However, as we worked, people brought to the light cases of incest, child rape, harassment by brother in-laws, men throwing their wives out of the home and the taking away male children from the custody of the mother.
Multiple factors such as the societal denial of violence against women, a lack of familiarity with the legal process, the patriarchal society, a hostile male environment and unethical practices of lawyers demanding huge fees, to name a few, all work against women demanding their right to justice. Indian courts are not a site of justice but a site for silencing, practicing exclusion, inflict further injuries.
To solve this problem, Jagori Grameen set up its own courts. Women’s Courts, Nari Adalat, is an initiative for the village women at the community level where issues related to violence, injustice and gender discrimination are raised and addressed. The process of resolution is achieved through dialogue and negotiations with the voices of women as central to decision making. Everyone, including men, is free to seek help, in an open and transparent environment. A cadre of 12 women and 3 male Legal Justice Activists are actively engaged in addressing cases of violence against women.
So far nearly 350 cases of VAW been brought under the court. Over 200 cases have been resolved and others are either in courts or are under process of resolution. The survivors of violence are from multiple communities, religions and cast groups, including tribal women. There is an increase in reporting by both women and young girls. There are also have been cases brought to the court by men. Gradually the Nari Adalat has become accepted by the community as well as by the Panchayats, the police and other state agencies and other NGOs.
The survivors from the courts have made groups and help in bringing other women who need help to Nari Adalat as they have become the ambassadors of Nari Adalats.
campaigning against violence
The Sixteen Days of Activism for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is an international campaign which is celebrated across the world annually. The campaign spans from the 25th of November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW), to the 10th of December, the International Human Rights Day (IHRD). Metaphorically, we are illustrating the link between violence against women and human rights. Every year, JG organizes sixteen days campaign to eliminate violence against women and girls.
The main objective of this campaign is to sensitize community at large on the issues gender based violence, build a network of women, make the state institution mare aware of gender related violations, show that women are not alone and seek accountability.
We worked with 15 local NGOs to create One Billion Rising. The campaign fought against violence against women and reached 30,000 people men and women both from rural and urban communities. With the help of NGOs and collectives, various sensitization activities were conducted. Day and night meetings were held with women’s collectives and community members in 73 villages of the Kangra district on the topic of gender based violence in society. Students of 30 schools and 5 colleges rose in morning assemblies with slogans and songs. Human Chain and candlelight vigils were organized in collaboration with the Tibetan Women Association and 3 Nunneries, 2 monasteries, NGO’s and community members.