You're right, access is always the big barrier, no matter which community we work. The women in this community are in many ways cut off from help: Their lack of education limits their knowledge of choices that are available, and their lack of agency limits their ability to pursue options for recourse. The PeaceMaker Program was designed to specifically address this issue. Since they are local women who work part time as PeaceMakers, they have full lives in the community and often have second jobs as beauticians or mehendi artists. They are sisters, aunts, cousins, neighbors, etc to other women in the community. In this way, PeaceMakers "infiltrate" their own community with hope, knowledge, education and support. They already know which woman in the community is most at risk, they know the stories coming from the household down the street. They also know the particular challenges/barriers that women face in getting help, and are able to help create contextualized solutions.
Another aspect of our work that has proved successful is ensuring that we have a reputation for being a Family Counseling service. We speak to the whole family with respect, and seek to understand the male point of view as well. Each of our Counseling Centers and our PeaceMakers are highly trusted in the community. Even in this Golconda community, where there is the highest level of distrust for any kind of women's program, the community generally looks at our Center as a safe space for women and girls. In this particular community, we have also put other steps in place like ensuring that we moved into a Community Center building that had existed for many years running a women's tailoring program. We inherited the good reputation of this program, and we have ensured that we continue to run the skills training program to support the community growth in more ways than addressing violence.
We would love to share more - if you're ever in Hyderabad feel free to get in touch, visit us in Golconda, and meet some PeaceMakers.
Hi Anubha Sharma , thank you very much for your comment and words of encouragement! You are absolutely right. Women must be built up and empowered with understanding of their own capacity, strength, and capability so that they understand they do not have to be dependent on others for everything. In fact, a turning point for both men and women (victim and abuser) is often the realization that women are capable partners to share in generating income and in decision making. Not only is this empowering to women, but it can be liberating to men who were raised to understand their own masculinity in terms of absolute control over family resources. For many men, it is a huge relief to finally recognize their wife as an equal partner in their family responsibilities. This also ensure that their children are raised differently, and are taught to respect female agency. Typically, this realization among men is hard won and takes a lot of challenging Counseling to achieve, but we work towards it whenever possible as we believe it is important for to break the cycle of abuse.
Auden McKernan - thank you for your comment! We agree wholeheartedly, and are expanding our programs for boys and young men in particular. We already conduct workshops for boys in schools and colleges, and recently launched a long-term mentorship and community building program for adolescent boys. This was a very interesting component of our Community Feedback stage as well, where we learned that community women thought getting older men on board with change would be beneficial as well. We are planning to work towards the engagement of parents/fathers.