8 organisations that women can count on during tough times
The statistics are always scary when it comes to the number of instances of sexual or physical violence against women in India at any given hour, day or year. There are several organisations that work towards helping women combat this constant threat of violence, and work towards making our country safer for women by initiating policy level changes and conducting awareness campaigns that aim to educate the public. Such organisations usually cover one or more of the following objectives.
- Rescue women and children from unsafe or violent environments and rehabilitate them at a safe temporary or permanent shelter.
- Provide vulnerable women with financial support or vocational training and help them become financially and socially self-reliant.
- Provide legal advice to help victims of sexual or physical violence understand her rights and initiate the judicial process to attain justice.
- Provide counselling and psychological rehabilitation.
But when a woman is in a difficult mental space, it is difficult for her to sieve through the hundreds of organisations and their contact details and reach out to the right one. Here I have attempted to make a one-stop resource page, which can serve as a directory for vulnerable women.
Azad foundation focusses on women who continue in abusive relationships because of their financial dependence on their husbands. The New Delhi-based organisation trains women in professions traditionally closed to them and helps them achieve financial independence.
Women undergo a half-year training course, which includes topics such as self-defence, women’s rights, sexuality and reproductive rights, effective communication, grooming and most importantly, driving, which will become their future vocation. The organisation’s sister concern, Sakha Consulting Wings, provides employment to these women as cab drivers and thereby, safe chauffeur and car hire services to their female clients.
Set up in May 2008, the foundation has expanded its reach, and opened offices in Jaipur, Indore, and Kolkata.
Tel: +91 11 4060 1878
Email: [email protected]
Bharatiya Grameen Mahila Sangh
Bharatiya Grameen Mahila Sangh or BGMS (National Association of Rural Women India) was founded in 1955, and is a non-political and non-sectarian national organisation with branches all over India, in 14 states and union territories. It is affiliated with the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), the world’s largest organisation for rural women, which in turn is a consultative body for such reputed international organisations such as UNESCO, WHO, and ILO.
The goal of BGMS is the welfare, and empowerment of women and children. The organisation creates Mahila Mandals (women self-help groups) across villages in its areas, for women empowerment and education.
BGMS has a short stay home for destitute women who have been ill-treated by their husbands, in-laws or other family members, and find themselves without any home. They are provided with vocational training and jobs to support themselves. Elderly women, who have nobody to look after them, can also find a home in BGMS. They are provided with food, medical care, and recreational facilities.
International Center for Research on Women is an organisation headquartered in Washington DC with regional offices in New Delhi and Mumbai. ICRW was founded with the belief that when women have opportunities to improve their lives, everyone benefits. When women earn an income and control what they do with it, their children are more likely to finish school, their families eat better, they stay healthy and the entire community thrives.
But the reality is that women face issues like violence, child marriages, lack of education and resources. ICRW carries out research that identifies barriers to economic and social stability of women and designs evidence-based plans for program designers, donors and policymakers that empower women. ICRW talks to women directly and helps their voices be heard.
New Delhi office: 011 4664 3333
email id: [email protected]
One Stop Crisis Centre or the Nirbhaya Centres
In India, the victim are often shunted from hospitals to police stations to courts without any kind of sensitivity to her traumatised state of mind and sometimes even denied the rights to treatment and to file a FIR. In light of these factors, the Justice Verma Committee, set up after the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape case, called for establishing One Stop Crisis Centres to cater sensitively to the immediate medical, legal, and psychological needs of the survivors. The Union ministry of women and child development initially planned 660 one-stop crisis centres across the country. But later, the government slashed the budget and sanctioned only 36 centres to be built on a pilot basis. The first Nirbhaya centre has come up in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. This centre also has a 24-hour helpline service for distress and rescue calls. Emergency response and rescue services with linkage with existing mechanisms like 108 emergency service is expected to lead to timely help for victims. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has announced that the centres for the states of Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, and Madhya Pradesh will be functional this year, while work is being started for the centres in Nagaland and Assam.
Founded in 1981, Lawyers Collective is an NGO founded by senior lawyers Anand Grover and Indira Jaising. It is distinguished by its membership comprising of professional lawyers, law students, and human rights activists. The NGO was created with the objective to provide expert legal assistance to the underprivileged, especially women and children, workers in the unorganised sector, and other members of marginalised groups. Lawyers in Lawyers Collective are engaged in both professional and public interest work, using the former to subsidise the latter. However, even in their professional practices, they are bound by the Collective’s code of ethics and do not take up any cases that are in conflict with public interest principles. Thus, they do not represent clients such as alleged rapists, or employers who violate labour laws. Anand Grover led the Naz Foundation’s legal case for the repeal of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which is a law criminalising homosexuality in India.
Women’s Rights Unit of Lawyers Collective
E-mail: [email protected]
Angala (meaning the courtyard) is the women’s crisis intervention centre of Bengaluru-based women’s organisation, Vimochana. The centre was set up in 1993 to systematically reach out, respond and offer moral, social and legal support to women who are victims of violence and abuse both within marriage and outside, enabling them to lead a life of dignity free from violence.
Each case, apart from the counselling and direct intervention, is followed up regularly and thoroughly. Angala helps the women who approach them to get jobs, find admission for their child/children in orphanages if the mother is not able to look after them, carry out follow up visits at their houses in case of reconciliation with a previously abusive spouse, provides medical treatment, finds them accommodation on a case-by-case basis. At any given point in time, they respond to around 400 women.
Helpline-Crisis Intervention Centre:
Tel: +91-80-25492781 / 25494266
Email: [email protected]
Aasra is a crisis intervention centre for the lonely, distressed, and suicidal. Their confidential helpline is answered by professionally trained volunteers. So, whatever the caller’s concerns are, she can be rest assured that she will receive non-judgmental and non-critical listening.
The centre’s mission – “We aim to help prevent and manage mental illness by providing voluntary, professional and essentially confidential care and support to the depressed and the suicidal”.
Callers can phone in or meet their volunteers or even write to be assured that a warm, caring, empathetic response is available.
24 Hour Helpline: 022-27546669
Office (10am to 7pm): 022-27546667
Email: [email protected]
To paraphrase Dumbledore’s line from the Harry Potter series, “Help will be given to those who ask for it.” Problems that seem insurmountable can be solved, when one gets support and guidance, especially from professional organisations that consist of people who are trained and want to help. One small step, just a phone call or an e-mail, can change life into the affirmative experience that it is meant to be.
(Let us know of any other organisations/resources that can be of use for women in distress)