Lok Astha Sewa Sansthan (LASS)

Project Theme

Ending Violence Against Women

Target Group

Others

Project Period

01 Apr 2016 - 31 Dec 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: 

The project works 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: 

  • Streamlining Women Support Center (WSC) by focusing on the documentation of WSC, publicity of WSC in the community, other than project areas and among government agencies and departments. 
  • Strengthening Sanghwari Mahila Manch by emphasising on strengthening the structure and systems
  • Survivor forum will be formed with organising their regular meetings to enable them rebuild their self-confidence and rejuvenating their lives, as their respective needs.  
  • Increased involvement of male members by their increased participation in meetings, trainings, interface with government officials, organising events, sometimes involving them in resolving case of violence against women. Their major role will be in spreading awareness on VAW in the community. 

 

Prior Achievements:

  • Lok Astha Sewa Sansthan director Lata Netam is awarded with State Level Honour “Nari shakti Samman” for the initiative on domestic violence supported by OIN. 
  • Rapport is built with I.C.D.S, CWC, WCD and Protection officer and Police Department. They began inviting LASS in their programs both as participants as well as resource persons.
  • Nyay Commitee and Sanghwari Mahila Manch were successful in banning alcohol in 12 project villages. This was a major achievement for the nyay samiti in less than two years. Other nearby villagers were also influenced by this and they have also taken the initiative to ban alcohol in their villages. 
  • In the last year, 16 cases have come to Nyay Committee and out of which 9 cases have been solved by them. One case was referred to Child Welfare Committee, 5 cases on women violence referred to Chhattisgarh Women Commission and 2 cases have been referred to  the relevant Protection Officer PO.
  • In the two cases that were referred to the PO, she took Lok Astha Sewa Sansthan’s support from doing home visit, filing DIR, referring the case to the court to following up on the case. 
  • In 16 villages, 16 youth group have been formed, having 183 members. Regular awareness and information sharing is done with the youth groups on gender issues and legal issues. Their major role is to spread awareness within families and village.  

 

Quotes of Beneficiaries: 

Santoshi says, “Now my father helps in household work and my brothers also sometimes prepare food for the family. My brothers have also started raising their voices if father ever gets abusive.”

“People call me Jhopdi Neta since I live in a jhopdi (hut) but none of them can now dare to serve alcohol even in weddings if I am there”, Satto Bai, Jatiyatora Village.

Thagiya Bai, “I don’t care about anything now, I just take my danda (stick) and do my work of monitoring houses to see if anyone is drinking. Once when I was hiding in the jungle to watch a house, I was about to be attacked by a leopard.”

 

Case Studies/Human stories: 

Anti-alchoholism Drive Relaunched 

Graam Kamraaj has always been under the influence of alcoholism. Last year, after a persistent activism against it, there was a noticeable decline in use of alchohol, which was a huge relief for the women and girls. However, much against the wishes of women, the bottle re-emerged to destroy the peaceful lives of the villagers here. The women united yet again to fight another episode of liquor addiction in their homes and neighborhoods. However, their efforts were sorely discredited by a band of anti-social elements and musclemen belonging to influential families. The brow beating of these liquor peddlers held the women back from registering their protests. Seeing this, Lok Aastha Sewa Sansthan stepped into the fight. Poornima Nagesh, a field worker from LASS spoke to the women and explained to them the necessity to remain united in their fight against liquor addiction. Later, a series of meetings were held with the women groups, some in the presence of Mahila Mukhias (women heads of villages), who thwarted the presence of these musclemen. After a series of meetings with the women, their confidence level rose and they requested for more meetings. Later, LASS proposed that a full-fledged de-addiction drive to be launched in the village, to which everyone agreed.  The proposal was accepted by 133 women and men, and a decision of imposing a fine of Rs 10,000 on anyone caught with a liquor bottle was taken. The same penalty stays for people caught brewing liquor at home, selling or distributing within the neighbourhood. 

Initially, the movement failed to garner much response. As a result, the women decided that they would form separate squads and monitor households to ensure the rules were being followed properly. A few women formed independent groups and raided some houses, and procured liquor brewing materials, mahua, etc. Around 26 families were slapped with a penalty of Rs 5,000 each. At the end of the raid, Rs 23,000 was recovered in cash; and for the recovery of the pending dues, the guilty have been given a time limit of three months. The entire rejuvenated anti liquor drive has left the women more organized, united, strengthened and hopeful.