„Voice of Women“

Access to effective legal services for victims of violence, especially for Dalit, Adivasi and other marginalized groups

Subject:
Violence against women

Location:
Indian States Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra

Duration:
01.04.2019 to 31.12.2022

Budget:
555.146 €, including 416.360 € subsidy from the BMZ (Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development). The remaining 138.786 € will be financed by Karuna Deutschland e.V. and Karuna Trust UK.

Target group reached:
6.500 Dalit and Adivasi women, 160 grassroots organisations, 100 lawyers of the state legal aid, 450 women who have been victims of violence, as well as families and husbands of affected women. Another 30,000 members of the communities.

Indirectly, about 100,000 people are reached.

Challenges

Meeting

Violence against women is rampant in India. Dalit and Adivasi women find it particularly difficult to gain access to justice. Because perpetrators are rarely brought to justice, Dalit and Adivasi women are considered "easy targets" for sexual violence and other crimes. In rural areas, the access to state legal services for Dalit and Adivasi women is extremely limited. Furthermore, women in these areas rarely receive support from independent organizations. The selected 12 districts in four states are characterized by a high number of cases of violence. This situation is to be countered with a combination of measures for direct legal support of affected women, strengthening of their self-help structures as well as advocacy work and public awareness raising on the topic of violence against women.

Project goal

Women survivors of violence can defend themselves and take legal action. Women self-help groups at grassroots level, local and regional civil society organisations are well trained and competent to provide effective support to women who have experienced abuse and violence. State legal aid lawyers are trained and sensitised to better represent Dalit and Adivasi women in particular. Individual court proceedings and higher-level petitions strengthen women’s rights. In the target areas, men and families are sensitised and support victims of violence.

Main activities

  • Training and capacity building of women’s grassroots organisations and self-help groups
  • Capacitiy building of Civil Society Organisations
  • Training of paralegals and barefoot lawyers
  • Training, sensitisation and mentoring of Legal Service lawyers
  • Legal and social support for survivors of violence
  • Campaigns for sensitisation of the general public
  • Working with adolescent boys and men

Corona Update

We know that women and girls are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. During epidemics, the very measures that are taken to protect populations and keep health systems afloat leave women and girls especially vulnerable to violence. As communities around the world are forced to stay at home, women and girls are at a heightened risk of domestic violence, intimate partner violence, child abuse, and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence.

During the pandemic it is difficult for project employees to reach out to women at risk. The ‘Voice of Women’ survivor support team in collaboration with the helpline team conducted regular follow up calls with all the cases recorded in the system. They collaborate with the police, media, news agencies, and survivor forums across the country. 1,237 survivors received support during the lockdown period.

Story from the field

Duja Malviya is 22 years old and from Bhopal District. She has been living separately from her husband for one and half years due to domestic violence and other family issues. While working at a property dealing office in Roshan Gulab City she was struggling to make enough money for her family. She came into contact with a man who promised her better opportunities and also promised to marry her and give her a better life. After some time the man asked Duja to accompany him on a visit to Indore, and they rented a room where he raped her. The situation was repeated regularly, and all the time he was promising to marry Duja. When she fell pregnant she asked him to marry her but he refused on the basis that she would not be accepted by his family. A formal FIR was registered after great deal of struggle with the police and Duja’s own family. Her family were not supportive of her registering the complaint because it could give the family a bad name, especially given Duja was already separated from her first husband.

After one month the police registered a charge of: punishment for committing rape repeatedly on the same woman. The Voice of Women team started fact finding and counseling after finding out about the case from a local newspaper. The team supported the legal action while the trial is going on, as well as pushing for further legal action from the court. At the same time the Voice of Women team supported Duja with continuous attendance at court during the trial. Unfortunately, the accused got bail during the initial trial process, due to an error of the court. The legal team supported the cancelling of the bail of accused and ensured that the accused was arrested again. In addition, Duja was provided with medical support was and she also enrolled in a livelihoods programme with Jan Sahas. This case is still being monitored and followed up as the judgment and justice is still pending. Duja is now earning her own livelihood and is confident about the quest for justice. She wants to set example for other women who want to be responsible for their own destiny.

Counselling

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