Aware Woman's Action for Justice
AWAJ , the women's works through the formation of women’s collectives on a range of issues such as stopping violence against women, addressing issues of sex selective abortion and neglect of girl children, foregrounding women’s right to bodily safety and sexuality, and women’s participation in governance. Legal support is provided through Nari Adalats (Women’s Courts) managed by bare foot village level legal activists as well as formal judicial processes. 2.1 Community Based Women’s action to address Violence against Women (VAW)
VAW and girls has become a central issue for women’s movements world over. In the context of India, in the last decade there is an unprecedented increase in the recorded data on VAW both, in the form as well as the extent of violence. The declining sex-ratio in India, particularly in some districts across different states, is a clear indication of entrenched patriarchies, increasing violence against women, conflicting state policies, enormous rise in consumerism. This is pertinent keeping in view that sex ratio among affluent sections of society is most adverse. It is a complex inter related causal scenario. In spite of the concerted efforts of various constituencies, including the state and the non-state actors, all continue to grapple with the issue and its multiple dimensions
During the last 10 years of Jagori Grameen’s involvement in the community of nearly 100 villages in Himachal, 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 as it was a peaceful state. However, as women’s collectives started becoming strong, women told different stories. The domestic violence started becoming visible. First it was justified as a problem of drinking. Drunken men only beat their wives. However, in the early years of our community mobilization work brought to the light cases of incest, child rape, harassment by brother in-laws and of course a lot of cases of men remarrying, throwing their wives out of the home, taking away male children from the custody of the mother etc.
Multiple factors such as the century old silence around violence against women. a societal sanction, the alien legal language, the hostile male environment, the culture of the patriarchal legal Institution, delays in hearing, unethical practices of lawyers demanding huge fee which is beyond women, all work against women demanding their right to justice, especially through the established legal systems of the state.
Indian COURTs - a site for silencing, practicing exclusion, inflict further Injuries – physical, sexual, emotional and social, led JG to set up its own mechanisms to seek justice. Thus the alternatives are born out of struggle for safety, dignity, sheer survival. It was evident that women needed to get justice and freedom from violence as their basic human right. As part of our work with a national Government programme - Education For women’s Equality, we evolved a concept of multiple literacies to prepare rural poor women with no or little literacy skills, as professionals to take charge of their own needs and develop a feminist perspective to address issues of discrimination, injustice and violation of the rights and bodily integrity.
3 Sections of AWAJ
Objectives of AGAJ
- To provide women safe space to be able to share the experiences of violation and violence
- Make the issue of Violence against women visible
- Make the judiciary including lawyers, judges and the police and all other actor aware, sensitive and responsible for women’s safety and justice
- Build a perspective and practice of feminist jurisprudence
- Build women even with minimum literacy skills as active agents of human rights protectors
- Help them to break their silence around the issue of violence they face and help them in eradicating violence from their lives, especially from their homes
Ways of Intervention
- Constant counseling and monitoring sessions of the concerned members.
- Helping women and men to have a free and fair dialogue with each other as well as with their respective family members without any one abusing the other.
- Extending emotional support to women who are going through emotional stress and trauma
- Helping victims re-build their identity and restore their pride and dignity through encouragement and support.
- Financial Aid to victims.
- Resolving cases keeping women’s welfare and perspective in mind.
- Helping women become self sufficient and find employment.
- When unresolved cases go to courts, Jagori then helps women file cases, helps them in seeking lawyers who are gender sensitive and also help them to seek fair compensation and should the need arise also helps them with accommodation and other living arrangements.