Damuben walked into the women’s support cell at Rapar police station, a picture of positivity. Talking animatedly about the philosophy of her life she said, “lodge main khane ka, hauz main nahane ka aur mauj main rehene ka, (Eat in a restaurant, bathe in a pool and have fun)”.
She laughs freely and talks assertively. “For years I suffered”, she says, “my husband and in-laws would beat me mercilessly and I was hospitalized. I had two children to support and my parents were poor. They asked me to forgo the custody of my children and remarry. How could I leave my children? I would think of committing suicide, but lived for my children. My friend told me about the Nari Sahayak Kendra (Women’s Support Cell) at Rapar. Here, they helped me through legal processes and I found a direction. When I first came to this support cell I was thin like a stick and depressed. Now I am economically independent and lead life on my terms, my children study in a good school. I have a property worth Rs five lakh and my parents are proud of me. I was capable, all I needed was support and guidance, and I got it here.”
In Gujarat, more than one in every three married women (34%) has experienced some form of violence. Only 30% of the women who faced violence have sought help, the rest kept quiet. The prevalence of violence against women in the state is much higher than reported.
Oxfam India believes in empowering such women and supporting them, while advocating for better implementation of laws to protect them from violence. Our work in Gujarat is based on the premise that given the right kind of support, women not only report violence against them and also work towards rebuilding their lives. Oxfam India along with its partner CSOs has created structures to provide legal services and emotional support to women in distress.
Story Credit: Jyoti Patil