“I always wanted to learn karate, but my family did not support me and I got married the man I loved. So I wanted to engage myself into something productive and joined a tailoring course near my house. But there I was sexually abused by my trainer and I was forced to leave the training as I lacked the courage to face it. When I reported the incident to my husband, he asked me to remain a housewife and did not allow me to pursue any courses as I wouldn’t be able to tackle problems on my own.” - said 19 year old Sarada Biswas
Women and young girls of India, continue to be a subject to violence in many forms- molestation, eve-teasing, rape, sexual harassment on roads, transports, and workplace and even at home as domestic violence.
On July 2018, Sara Ledrman, a student of University of Minnesota School of Public Health introduced a programme “I am living for Justice” at Jan Seva. Using her research narratives from Domestic abuse survivors in Kolkata to inform community based interventions. In collaboration with Pathways to Children, University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Community Health Program (CHP) Team members conducted 12 intensive interviews with community women. Considering the sensitive nature of the topic, CHP team spoke with the women in private and avoided identifying women in large groups to avoid triggering any community hazards.
In addition to collecting the testimonials and providing a safe, therapeutic space, the CHP team is closely following up with women who expressed interest in intervention. For those who shared experiences of abuse but were tenuous about intervention, CHP Team members organised a workshop on "SELF DEFENSE MECHANISM" collaborating with SWA – SHAKTI on 23/4/2019 at Jan Seva.
Campaigns and workshops against violence address the structural reasons for violence against women in a male dominated society.
The participants that were present were 14 including the women from the community and the staffs of Jan Seva who also participated. Excluding them, Dr. Hartnett, Mrs. Sarita Dhir & Mrs. Sumaya Gupta were also present during the session. Out of them 3 women were from the previous cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse and 4 women were new cases. A 3 hours training on self defense was given to the women.
Sumita Majumdar and Sutapa Patra, trainers of WENLIDO which means women’s path of strength, from SWA-SHAKTI at first introduced themselves to the community women and to decrease the tension between them they did an ice-breaking session where they also build the rapport with the women. During the session the women interacted with the trainers & shared their experiences. Their main motive was to help women to connect with their strength, overturning centuries of condition which convinces women that they are weaker sex, so that the women raise their voice and stand for their own self, rights for their empowerment.
The trainers taught the group various practical method through interaction to make the women observe, learn and implement when it is required. The teaching objective was more towards defensive rather than aggressive towards the odds that hinder the empowerment of women.
At the end of the session, the participants appreciated the need of this workshop and how it will help them. The CHP team assured the community women that they would help them through counselling, networking and linkages with other organization for their empowerment and need and also do steady follow up. The women who wanted an intervention shared that they were really motivated and this workshop has boosted their self confidence and they are ready to face any such upcoming cases in future. This training helped in motivating the women to become stronger and capable of defending themselves when hindered or attacked.