Monday, December 7, 2009

2009 Campaign PR (30/11):Rebuilding lives, Supporting Survival

Chennai: “Domestic Violence is the most common form of gender violence,” said a participant at “Rebuilding Lives, Supporting Survival: A Roundtable for Service Providers”, held at the Madras Terrace House here on Monday. The roundtable was organised to bring together service providers who work with victims and survivors of violence, as part of the 16 Days Campaign against Gender Violence organised by Prajnya. The participants included representatives from organisations such as PCVC, Vishranti, Sahodari, Centre for Development and Women’s Studies, FORWORD and Sahodari.

The participants ascertained that domestic violence included both physical and verbal aspects, and cut across class, caste and religion. “That domestic violence is prevalent only among the lower castes is a very big myth,” opined a representative. A recent trend that came up for discussion was economic abuse. “Economic freedom is hardly found even among well employed women. It is one of the focal points for further mental and physical abuse,” expressed a participant. “Alcohol and tobacco play a major role in domestic violence,” added another participant.

The participants also spoke of the various services their organizations offered including counselling, shelter homes, rehabilitation, sensitisation, training programmes and job placements. In a unique initiative of sensitising an entire community, one of the organizations has worked with specific socio-economic groups such as auto drivers. Heightened awareness and public campaigns aimed at children and adolescents were felt to be the need of the hour in addressing this issue.

A common problem faced by most organisations is that victims don’t come forward to declare their problems, because of social taboo. “In our culture, violence against women is looked at as a private problem,” said a representative. Some of the common problems of distress that is found among gender violence victims include low self esteem, a neglected childhood, lack of parental support, etc.

Prajnya, a Chennai-based non-profit centre for research, networking and public education will launch a directory of service providers on 9 of December, the penultimate day of the 16 Days Campaign. This directory will include information about specific services as well as relevant contact information.

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