They learn to march ahead
— Sruthy Susan Ullas
Walking past this residential complex, one can smell incense and hear tailoring machines. A couple of kids are seen playing on the verandah. Inside are 30 women knitting a new life with optimism. Dakshata Short Stay Home, an initiative of Mahila Dakshata Samiti, provides temporary shelter for women who are victims of domestic violence, rape and dowry harassment. Those who can no longer tolerate injustice are given space till they find independent means of living, or if the family reconciliates. “These women are shattered by the time they approach us, usually after seeing an advertisement. They just walk out of the house and come over. We help them rebuild their lives,” said Saranya Hegde, president, Mahila Dakshata Samiti.In the first month, they try reconciliation. The family is counselled and they are given a chance to live together again. In some cases, it works. But in many, there is no change in behaviour. “I went back and stayed with him for another year. But he was as cruel as ever. He used to burn my hands with cigarette stubs. I decided to come back,” said Lekha V (name changed). Those who return are trained in tailoring, English, driving, candle-making and computer. Their children are sent to schools. Once they start earning for themselves, they move out. The aim is to help them build confidence, strength, courage and self-esteem. “I learned to look up and walk. I could smile without a burden on my heart,” added Lekha. “It is a pain to see them and hear their stories. One cannot even imagine the kind of torture they have gone through. We try to empathize and stand by their side,” said Kamashi Ayannay, a counsellor. The process is not easy. There have been times when men find out their wives are ‘hiding’ here. They come and hurl abuses at the inmates and volunteers. People can be bullied only if they are ready to be bullied. We have learned to deal with them, even when they claim to have political connections. Such men think wives are their property. They think these women have nobody to fall back on. That is where we come in,” Saranya said. The organization was started in 1976, and the Bangalore branch in 1992. The number of cases is on the rise, with at least 500 women approaching them every year.
MAHILA DAKSHATA SAMITI Contact: 66/A, AECS Layout, Sanjaynagar Main Road, Bangalore Phone: 23512543
I have been voluntarily involved with many NGOs in India since 2002. I strongly believe that all of us can do more by coming together, sharing ideas and working together to address social issues! A techie by training - I have a Bachelor of Technology from IIT Bombay and Masters of Science from U.....read more