The day a woman in India can amble across the streets of India at night—without nay a nervous glance over her shoulder—one may hope to live in a progressive nation. However, that dream stands far from the current reality.
According to the latest official government data, released in September 2019: the country recorded an average of 87 rape cases a day in 2019 and an overall 4,05,861 cases of crime against women—a terrifying 7 percent increase from 2018. The statistics for 2020, though not yet officially released, are sure to be grim with gruesome incidents as recent as the Hathras rape: where a young, Dalit woman was gang-raped by upper-caste Hindu men. She succumbed to her injuries a few days later.
The country deemed her another ‘Nirbhaya’—in remembrance of the inhuman gangrape of a young medical student in Delhi in 2012. However, this time social media retaliated. Her name, they cried, needed to be said. It was time to hold up an ugly mirror to society and recognise that in this country, women—no matter the caste, class or social backgrounds—have been objectified and subjectified. While the Nirbhaya, Hathras, and Kathua rape cases make one sick to the stomach, these are some of the few cases that have been reported, with the nature of the crime so grotesque and inhuman that not even the greatest escapist can manage to run away from an open discussion. Imagine now, the everyday violence that women are being subjected to behind closed doors.
Countless - a terrifying number - of cases pertaining to violence against women go unreported and unnoticed. Marital rapes and domestic abuse top these horrifying charts, but with no law to hold the perpetrator accountable - the offender gets to walk scot-free. It’s important to note here that according to the data released by the National Commission of Women, there was a 2.5 times increase in the number of domestic abuse cases in India in the lockdown months - at the very least. Megha Gulzar’s Chhapaak starring Deepika Padukone, where she plays Malti, an acid-attack survivor, opened up a conversation about the very real problem of acid attacks in the country. Data collected between 2017 and 2018 reveal that 596 acid attack cases were reported in India during this period, but less than a quarter of the perpetrators were even convicted.
However, just because the plight of these women isn’t making headlines or leaving the four corners of their bedrooms, it doesn’t mean that they should be ignored. Women need to know - that they’re not alone. They need to recognise that they can opt for a better life, empower themselves, and most importantly - walk away from danger, its roots often stemming at their own households.
To this end, here is a list of organisations that are empowering women who have been victims of terrifying realities: rapes, domestic abuse, sexual assault, and acid attacks.
This non-profit aims to fight human trafficking and forced prostitution: especially for women and children. Formed in 1993, the Uttar Pradesh-based organisation has been fighting against the sexual exploitation of women and children by taking up rescue and legal interventions in such cases and turning them into PILs—in an attempt to bring about change at the policy level itself. Through multiple avenues of panchayat meetings, street plays and folk songs, foot and cycle marches, and more: the organisation aims to spread awareness about sex trafficking and exploitation. They have also rescued over 2,400 women from the clutches of such a fate. They also provide educational and health support to women and children, in an attempt to look after their prospects and well-being.
Contact: email@example.com; 91-542-2504253
The Kanpur-based organisation strives to empower women in India to take a stance against gender-based violence. The organisation educates women, often victims of abuse, on their rights and the very issue of violence against women by using mediums such as digital storytelling and gender-role discussions and providing them with a safe space to air their grievances. They also host a multitude of self-defence workshops to teach women how they can protect themselves. Their Sayfty Survivors’ Toolkit—designed specifically for the survivors of sexual assault in India—contains all the resources required to assist in their mental health, medical needs, legal actions, and any other requirement they may have—with help from professionals.
The Azad Foundation’s ‘Women on Wheels’ programme has been a trailblazer in the empowerment of women, with their efforts training and thus, helping over 1,000 women gain employment as chauffeurs—traditionally a ‘man only’ profession—in cities across the country.
Azad Foundation, in partnership with Sakha Wings Consulting Ltd, have even paved the way for India’s first female bus driver with Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), and the hope is that the latter will make room for many more. Along with this, over 22 female drivers trained by the organisation have been employed by the Delhi Commission for Women’s Helpline to rescue victims of violence who dial 181. Additionally, over 1,800 women have been trained and educated in women’s rights, self-defence, health practices, vocational services such as speaking in English, and mastering communications, first aid, GPS ,and a lot more.
Contact: Head office: +91 9599981661
The International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (PCVC)
The Chennai-based organisation offers its services to protect and empower women and those identifying as queer, who have been subjected to domestic and interpersonal violence. From running a 24x7 toll-free crisis hotline number for immediate emergency interventions to tying up with local police stations to make available counselling, rehabilitative and legal support, and defence training to women approaching the stations to file complaints of abuse; coordinating with hospitals to ensure health services, hospital beds and more to acid attack and domestic abuse survivors, rape victims and providing emergency shelters—the organisation has been putting the hard work to offer effective and immediate support.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 9840888882
Sakhya Women’s Guidance Cell
The Mumbai-based organisation aims to promote gender equality and gender justice through women empowerment. By tying up with policymakers, activists and the media, Sakhya aims to support women subjected to sexual abuse by making certain avenues — counselling, referrals, legal aid, and emergency shelters — available to them. They aim to spread awareness among the concerned groups through leaflet distributions, street plays and more, while also providing them with rehabilitation options, as well as accompanying them to both hospitals and legal institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; 9136090564
(Edited by Kanishk)