Awareness Campaigns on Eliminating Violence Against Women
Poorer women are likely to get more abused and be the victims of violence due to various reasons like inequitable access to resources, unemployment and discriminations. HBT believes that prevention should start early in life and thus educating and working with young boys and girls and promoting respectful relationships and gender equality can be the best means to prevent and eradicate gender-based discriminations and violence.
HBT with its commitment towards the right to a life free from violence for women and girls, observes a 16 days campaign on violence against women in all its operational areas that concludes on Human Rights Day every year. A series of meaningful activities are put up in the communities to mark the 16 days of activism and renew our commitment towards Women’s Rights. Street plays, open mic and other awareness building events are organized across locations highlighting issues of gender discrimination and gender based violence. Interface with law enforcement officers are organized where women and girls know about the legal protection mechanism and discuss about the crime and disorder in their neighborhood. To engage young minds on this serious issue, special programmes are organized with our youth leaders to make them understand about the patriarchal value system and how that leads to violence against women.
This year, to support this effort, HBT launched an initiative to highlight the violence and discrimination faced by women in various labor sectors.
When the going gets tough, the tough gets going….
Basanti Malla (name changed to protect the identity), resident of Matha Sahi in Kendrapati panchayat, Puri district was in a violent relationship for years. At the beginning of her marriage, there were not any episodes of violence or abuse. After half a year, things started to change for her.
‘Initially I was made to do entire work of the house. If I sat to relax for some time, my mother –in-law would remind me of the chores to be done. My in laws would verbally abuse me in public, accusing my parents of cheating and not giving them enough money as dowry’, reminisced Basanti. The emotional abuse gradually intensified and physical abuse set in. Basanti was isolated from the community as well, not being allowed to go out or speak to her relatives rendering it harder for her to seek help. Basanti became pregnant, but was made to work round the clock without any rest, sometimes having to survive without food. One afternoon, she was hit badly by her mother-in-law when she refused to do some work. The entire incident was video captured by a neighbor girl, who is a trainee of HBT’s adolescent life skill program. She was aware that any form of violence is a criminal offence and sent that video to women leaders of the village. HBT’s women leaders took up the matter and more than 50 women reached Basanti’s house within few minutes for her help. She was rescued and taken to police station. Under pressure of the women, the police lodged a FIR and acted up on to arrest the offenders. Basanti was sent with her parents and lived with them where she gave birth to her son. To earn a living for her son and herself, Basanti took stitching training and has been able to earn an income.
“When we’re in a relationship for a long time, we lose our identity. We don’t believe in our ability to live an independent life. But now I am free and I can live my life on my own conditions”, said a remarkably confident Basanti as a message to other victims of violence.