Tackling Violence against Women
Right since its inception Disha gave special attention to mobilise women, particularly from weaker sections, for social change. As mobilisation progressed, instances of violence against women started pouring in because women got a voice in it. Disha started intervening in complaints of violence with a view to provide relief to the harried victims of violence. Soon the organisation and its workers became last refuge of the victims of family violence, sexual violence, dowry, etc.
As the pressure of women seeking help in cases of violence against them increased on the organisation, realisation started in the organisation that some mechanism would have to be devised to institutionalise the organisation’s work with women. Fillip to this realisation came from an observation in the organisation’s evaluation, which echoed the same sentiment.
Following much deliberation, it was decided to create a Women Cell within the organisation to provide space to the work being done among the women. The Women Cell devised strategies like Nari Adalat (women’s court), which is held on 10th day of every month to take up cases ‘registered’ during the intervening period. Prominent people from the area are invited to arrive at solutions to the travails of the victims.
Often the Women Cell solves cases forwarded to it by the police. Yet the relations with the police are not very cordial because the cell functionaries keep a vigilant eye on the functioning of the police (often because of corruption) in cases of violence against women. Normally in such cases it is able to mount pressure on the local police by taking up the matter with the higher police officials, and if that fails, with the National Women’s Commission, the apex national level body promoted by the government.
Women Cell maintains proper documentation of the cases it tackles. Each case is duly registered and proceedings, including happenings during field visits to verify the facts, are recorded in detail. This helps in follow up of cases. The cell has also engaged a women lawyer to advise it on legal aspects. This lawyer also contests cases in courts, if necessary.
Disha’s operational area is endemic to violence against women. Violence exists in all possible forms: Violence in marriage, rape of women and girls, elopement of couples, eve-teasing, suspicion, property disputes, vices like alcoholism, unequal access to the household resources, etc.