Chennai, November 25: “We should not let ourselves be controlled by men and should spread the word about domestic violence in any way we can,” said Suguna. She was one of the sixty-five women from Self-Help Groups across the city who attended the ‘Responding to domestic violence’ workshop organised by Prajnya, in association with the International Foundation for Prevention of Crime and Victim Care (PCVC) and Sornammal Educational Trust on Wednesday.
Discussion, queries, answers and suggestions dominated Day One of Prajnya’s 16-day campaign against gender violence. The interactive session covered a range of topics such as the components of domestic violence, different forms of violence within the family, forms of threat and control and how affected women could speak up against it. Male chauvinism, archaic traditions and a male-dominated outlook in parenting style focussing on the preferences and dictates of the father of the family were discussed as contributing to the prevalence of domestic violence.
The importance of trust in a relationship and mutual respect for each other’s feelings and opinions were highlighted over the two-hour session. “The solution to a case of domestic violence is not by abandoning the husband or the family; it is to learn how to face it,” Bhuvana, Welfare Officer, PCVC, told the women gathered at the SET Centre at Vyasarpadi. A large part of the session also revolved around the effect of domestic violence on children within the family, in terms of adversely affecting their social behaviour and concentration and performance in school.
Parimala, a participant, felt it was the responsibility of women aware of the problem to intervene and help others suffering from violence. Women were also informed about PCVC’s 24-hr helpline 43111143 over which they could personally speak to a counsellor to discuss their problems. “This session has made many women aware of the existence of the helpline, which will be useful to them,” said K. Murali, Project Manager, Vyasarpadi Project Area.
The women also dropped off their ideas on how to combat domestic violence into a ‘paanai’ as part of Prajnya’s Collaborative Cooking initiative. Participation certificates were awarded to the women at the end of the session.