Young guns from slums and colleges fight gender violence- PSI Project


Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) under the Wajood Consortium undertook a major initiative to involve youngsters in the crusade against sexual violence.

A two-pronged strategy to deal with the sensitive issue was employed. The youngsters, most of whom are themselves victims of domestic violence, were carefully identified to be the drivers of this plan.

The focus was on empowering girls, tapping their potential and building their leadership capability.

From university campuses to slums, young volunteers were roped in under a vigorous campaign against gender-based violence that has been on the rise across the country.

The project, which began in late 2013, began keeping in mind statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau that showed that violence against women and girls went up by 146.3 percent over the 2012 data and Delhi accounted for 29.4 percent of the total rape cases.

Out of the 11,913 cases of sexual assault, 25 per cent were reported from Delhi alone. The incidence of crimes or rate of crimes committed against children per one lakh population of children is highest in Delhi (132.3).

Statistics tell a sordid tale which is being tackled through the CFAR initiative, which ended in March 2017.

Kalyanpuri, Nangal Raya, Saboli Khadda were the three areas in Delhi that were selected under this initiative.

The young volunteers were taught lucid interactive techniques to spread the message against gender violence.

Through neighbourhood meetings, safety audits, public hearings and seminar, a strong narrative was created to sensitise people against the menace and help the victims come out of the abusive and violent situations.

The result of the exercise has been positive to say the least.

Rachna, 28, lived with her husband Ram Gopal in Indira Camp, Kalyanpuri. Rachna is a victim of marital violence which started soon after her marriage. The verbal abuse soon led to physical violence and she would be beaten up often.

Her husband even refused to accept the baby after she got pregnant.

At this stage in her life, CFAR made an intervention and helped her file a case in Karkardooma court. While providing her legal help, Rachna became part of youth group “Hamari Pehchaan” and also took part in the play on domestic violence.

She went on to perform in colleges, markets and street corners spreading the message against marital abuse.

She got divorced and receives an alimony of Rs 1.30 lakh. At present, she is enrolled for a beautician course in YMCA and wants to open her parlour. Along with that she also worked as a facilitator in a CFAR project – Sapna Bachat Udaan.

Manoj Kumar, 19, also lives in Kalyanpuri. At the age of 16, he got into drugs. This led to frequent fights with his father who wanted him to work. Manoj was rusticated from school and started spending more time with friends and remained under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

He was spotted by a CFAR team and immediate help was provided and he participated in youth group activities. He expressed his willingness to undergo reform. He was enrolled into theatre group “Nai Soch” and registered in Open School. Manoj gave up drugs and also his company of friends.

He now wants to train himself to become theatre activist and also focused on completing studies. He wants to look after his family and also got a lead role in a documentary.

Away from Kalyanpuri, Monika Sharma, 31, lives in Nangal Raya. Two days before she got married in 2010, her sister-in-law demanded motorcycle. Monika’s widow mother accepted the demand but reduced the other dowry items.

This did not go down well with Monika’s in-laws. Monika came in touch with CFAR and was provided legal help to file for divorce. She also became a volunteer and joined the survivors group “Nai Disha”.

She took self defence training which gave her confidence.

She went on to complete her training from ITI and is now financially independent.

Through its almost four year campaign, CFAR adopted multi pronged strategy to deal with the issue and youth were at the centre of this plan.

The effort was to develop the necessary evidence from the ground and facilitate stake holders to offer help to the victims of abuse so that their lives can be changed forever.

Identifying the victim, understanding the problem, offering legal help and making them stand on their feet to take care of themselves and their families was the prime objective of the campaign.

The two pronged strategy was to develop understanding of mainstream society and evolve mechanism and processes for taking care of survivors and building their resilience with the support of young people.

Second was forging collaborations with stakeholders mandated to address the issue of violence against women, particularly domestic violence through para legal volunteer initiative.

To implement this fairly simple strategy, CFAR worked at multiple level bringing together disparate group such as young people living in slums or studying in different colleges and the survivors of violence.

There are several authorities that deal with the issue including Delhi Legal Services Authority, Delhi Commission for Women, Child Welfare Committee and academic institutions apart from ICDS workers, Mahila Panchayats, police and partner NGOs. These are the stake holders that need to be galvanized when someone needs help.  All these stakeholders were brought and linked together.

In addition, training of volunteers is key and imparting counseling skills. Social audit is another important aspect as it helps in generating evidence and provides relevant data input which is essential for any plan.

To engage primarily with young people a host of interactive and creative processes were initiated such as creative workshops and tutorials, anniversary events, networking with campaigns such as One Billion Rising. Street Plays, Rallies, Video Shows and youth group meetings.

The campaign has ensured that the survivors just not remain numbers.

Their lives are qualitatively reformed and the initiative has helped in breaking the circuit of violence which remains entrenched in societal network.

With little help, the survivors have come out of their ordeal and are now helping others to cope with this situation.