How ActionAid is working to end violence against women and girls:
ActionAid is committed to ending all forms of violence, harassment and abuse against women and girls. We fund local women’s organisations and help provide essential services and information for domestic violence survivors. We also provide legal support for survivors seeking justice.
We campaign long-term at a regional, national and international level for policies that tackle the root causes of gender inequality. Additionally, we work to end harmful traditional practices like child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).
The Gauravi One-Stop Crisis Centre is one example of how ActionAid supports women and girls facing violence and abuse. It is a shelter and support centre where survivors of sexual and domestic violence can access a range of services so that they can recover from trauma and begin to rebuild their lives.
What is the Gauravi Centre?
The centre was established in 2014 in Madhya Pradesh – the Indian state with the highest rate of violence against women and girls.
It was designed as a one-stop-shop, where women and girls can access a range of key services when they have experienced sexual and/or domestic violence. These services include a helpline, a safe shelter, medical treatment, counselling and legal aid.
Staff members counsel women and girls sensitively throughout their experience, from providing a safe, secure place to sleep, to finding a lawyer to represent their case. They help women and girls to recover from their trauma and achieve the justice they deserve.
The Gauravi Centre’s Covid-19 response:
The Gauravi Centre is proving more vital than ever given the surge in domestic violence cases brought about by Covid-19.
Staff are working hard to support women and girls who are at increased risk of violence and are delivering vital food and hygiene supplies to vulnerable people across their community. In fact, staff are distributing up to 7,000 food packets for families in need each day.
Why is this kind of centre necessary?
A women or girl reports a rape every 15 minutes in India.
Due to deeply held cultural beliefs in some communities, women and girls can feel pressured to stay silent about their attacks, or even feel as if they themselves are to blame. They may not have the financial means to leave their partner, or access legal services, meaning many cases of abuse go unreported.
But the Gauravi Centre offers the full range of services for survivors of violence – all under one roof. Many of the staff members at Gauravi are survivors of violence themselves. They often form strong bonds with the women and girls who access the services, keeping in touch for years to come, and providing sensitive, comprehensive care that helps survivors recover from trauma.
What about stopping the violence before it happens?
The Gauravi Centre doesn’t just provide aftercare for survivors of violence.
It also runs outreach work in the wider community, in order to break down stigmas and change attitudes. This includes holding talks in schools and colleges where participants find out how to report abuse and what their rights are.
Centre workers also train police officers to ensure cases are dealt with promptly and sensitively. They work with lawyers to ensure surivors get justice and perpetrators are held to account. Together, this sends a powerful message to community members about the rights of women and girls – and begins to break the cycle of violence.
They also run programmes to help women become financially independent, including a scheme to train women to become auto-rickshaw (tuk-tuk) and bus drivers – a profession that is usually seen as male-only. And they support families to get government funding to continue girls’ education so that girls can grow up with a better knowledge of their rights.
How women are learning new skills to build a livelihood:
Talat (26) is a survivor of domestic violence who has been trained at the centre to become a tuk-tuk driver.
She plans to use it to transport people to and from the centre, and teach other women to drive. She says:
Each time I used to see auto drivers on roads, I used to think, ‘why is it just men driving autos?’
So, when this opportunity came to me to learn how to drive, I chose it because I wanted to learn something different and be a woman auto driver.
When I first went behind the wheel, I was a little under-confident, but once I started to get trained and started to drive I gained the confidence and today, I can drive my auto confidently. And I feel really happy about it.”
Talat is also using her tuk-tuk to deliver food parcels to vulnerable people who are at risk of hunger due to the Coronavirus crisis, including survivors of violence, transgender people, homeless people, members of poor Muslim minority groups and migrant labourers
How can you support women like Talat?
€5 per month could help bring a woman or girl into the safety and sanctuary of the Guaravi Centre. Any amount you’d like to donate could help us support more women and girls in rebuilding their lives. Please donate here.
A version of this blog appeared on ActionAid UK’s website here