Lok Astha Sewa Sansthan (LASS)

Project Theme

Ending Violence Against Women

Target Group

Tribals

Project Period

01 Jul 2015 - 30 Jun 2016

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Introduction

Lok Astha, is a new partner for Oxfam, India. Lok Astha was formed in 2006, as a registered body under Chhattisgarh Societies Registration Act, 1973 (44 of 1974). After a brief period, in 2010, the organization was also registered under foreign contribution Regulation Act of 1976. Before registering, it facilitated ‘lok sangatha’ to come into existence in 2005. 

In the beginning, Lok Astha began working on issues of Natural Resource Management and Forest Rights Act and its effective implementation. During the process, it realized that working on women, particularly violence against women is essential as there is gross violation of their Human Rights. Thus, they took up issues such as atrocities against elected women representatives, violence issues against dalits and tribal women, issues such as health, etc. At present they are working in 70 villages. The women leaders in their area has formed ‘Sangwari Mahila Manch’ with their support. 

 

About the Project: 

As the name suggests ‘Nyay ke or badte kadam’, Lok Astha will work on disseminating awareness regarding domestic violence, violence against women. Since Jati Panchayat is very strong in the area and people hardly approach police station or court, it is immensely important to have an alternative justice mechanism for women. This is vital because the existing jati panchayat have patriarchal roots. The project will also make efforts to strengthen ‘Sangwari Mahila manch’ so that these three years proves to be transformative in grooming leadership among women.

 

Results to be Achieved / Impact: 

  • Organization will have a better understanding of ways of reducing violence against women.
  • Sangwari Mahila Manch will be strengthened with more women taking leadership role, manch will have visibility on the issues of VAW at district level, etc. 
  • New leadership will emerge in area which will be sensitive to discriminatory practices and will have a know how to tackle such issues. This will be pave a new way for all future development activities.
  • Nyay Samiti (Justice Committee) will be formed that will deliver justice sensitively and with feminist approach.

 

Outcomes: We have so far achieved (Achivements):

  • Women’s group has been formed at village level. A total of 16 groups with 407 members.
  • Formation of a Nyay Samiti (Committee formed to prevent Violence against Women and resolve dispute at community level with gender perspective) is complete. two members of Sangwari Mahila Manch from each village are members of Nyay Samiti in which two member at a time will be trained & this training will be on rotational basis so that Proper functioning of the Committees is ensured by conducting meetings bi-monthly, discussing issues raised by members and by providing members with information related to violence, law and gender. 
  • 8 women have received legal aid
  • 13 women suffering conflict were supported by resolving dispute at village level through two members of Nyay Samiti. 
  • 1 case is referred to CWC for Counseling and for legal aid to special court. 
  • A total of 16 Street plays on various issues concerning women have been staged by Lok Astha as part of this project since April 2014. 
  • Publication and distribution of a booklet on laws related to women. 
  • 20 meetings have been conducted in programme villages for building awareness at community level.
  • 16 Youth groups have been formed with a total membership of 108.
  • Networking with various departments of Government such as ICDS, CWC and Protection officer.
  • Women have completely banned selling of Alcohol in 4 villages.

 

Quotes of Beneficiaries: 

‘Developing an understanding of rights and violence against women is like waking up from the long sleep. Now, I pass on the information to other fellow sisters. 

Aghantin bai

Initially, I used to be very reserve and afraid, I didn’t know what was violence. Then, with the exposure and training, I became aware about violence against women and have handled cases of VAW with other fellow women. No one can imagine that alcohol can be banned from our village, but we did. 

Dhirja bai

 

Case Studies/Human stories: 

Movement against Alcoholism

During various meetings and during the Justice Committee training, alcoholism emerged as one of the prominent issue resulting to violence, poverty, school drop-out etc. Thus, after the training, the justice committee member of parsapani village, panchayat Tohni Dabri in block Chhurra gathered 75 women of their village and went to discuss with caste leaders to ban alcohol from the village. They agreed its ill-effects but explained their reservation of banning it. There were some men who supported the women’s campaign, however, some of them protested strongly and also threatened that the campaigners will be beaten up and will be taken to police station. However, the women have decided and hence once they called upon the meeting of the entire village and after very details discussions and debates, all of them took the decision to banning liquor from the village. They have made all the members to sign on the affidavit banning it.

Similarly, the justice committee member of Jatiatora village, panchayat Bharuamuda in block Chhurra took the initiative to discuss with caste leaders and men of the village about banning liquor. After a lot of persuasion, all the villagers agreed to ban liquor. Women went to each household, kiosks and local distillery, collected all the liquor in the middle of the village. And in front of everyone they broke all the liquor vessels. The entire village supported this initiative. There was one man who was protesting against the move, the caste leaders imposed a fine of 5000 Rs on him and have out-casted him until he pays the fine. This decision is taken to make it compelling and stringent so that no other person violates it. In this village, every evening women go for monitoring in the liquor kiosks and countryside liquor distillery and household.

Justice Committee bring peace in life

Mangali Bai, from Thuhapani village, Gariyaband district, now a member of Justice Committee (JC) says, ‘I was not aware about domestic violence as what it is and that there is a law to protect women against it. She came to know from the staff of Lok Astha Sewa Sansthan. She became regular in meetings and have taken a few training. After that, she became member of JC. She informed that a woman in her village was victim of domestic violence. Her husband used to beat her after being drunk. Her husband was told about the act of PWDVA that ensures the right of a women and her right to have a violence free life. The provisions of the act were told to him. He was told that if he continues his behaviour he will be taken behind bars. When he protested, he was taken to the caste panchayat, which penalised him. After much pressure, now he is living with his wife in peace.