The Gauravi Centre's response to the coronavirus pandemic
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which is bringing about a surge in domestic violence, the work of Gauravi Centre is more important than ever.
Staff are working hard to support women and girls who are at increased risk of violence; they are also delivering vital food and hygiene supplies to vulnerable people across their community.
Staff are distributing up to 7,000 food packets for families in need each day.
Why is this kind of centre necessary?
A women or girl reports a rape every 15 minutes in India.1
Due to deeply held cultural beliefs in some communities, women and girls can feel pressured to stay silent about their attacks, or even feel as if they themselves are to blame. They may not have the financial means to leave their partner, or access legal services, meaning many cases of abuse go unreported.
But the Gauravi Centre offers the full range of services for survivors of violence - all under one roof. Many of the staff members at Gauravi are survivors of violence themselves. They often form strong bonds with the women and girls who access the services, keeping in touch for years to come, and providing sensitive, comprehensive care that helps survivors recover from trauma.
What about stopping the violence before it happens?
The Gauravi Centre doesn't just provide aftercare for survivors of violence.
It also runs outreach work in the wider community, in order to break down stigmas and change attitudes. This includes holding talks in schools and colleges where participants find out how to report abuse and what their rights are.
Centre workers also train police officers to ensure cases are dealt with promptly and sensitively. They work with lawyers to ensure surivors get justice and perpetrators are held to account. Together, this sends a powerful message to community members about the rights of women and girls - and begins to break the cycle of violence.
They also run programmes to help women become financially independent, including a scheme to train women to become auto-rickshaw (tuk-tuk) and bus drivers - a profession that is usually seen as male-only. And they support families to get government funding to continue girls' education, so that girls can grow up with a better knowledge of their rights.
How women are learning new skills to build a livelihood
Talat, 26, is a survivor of domestic violence who has been trained at the centre to become a tuk-tuk driver.
She plans to use it to transport people to and from the centre, and teach other women to drive. She says:
Each time I used to see auto drivers on roads, I used to think, ‘why is it just men driving autos?’"
"So, when this opportunity came to me to learn how to drive, I chose it because I wanted to learn something different and be a woman auto driver.
"When I first went behind the wheel, I was a little under-confident, but once I started to get trained and started to drive I gained the confidence and today, I can drive my auto confidently. And I feel really happy about it."
Talat is also using her tuk-tuk to deliver food parcels to vulnerable people who are at risk of hunger due to the coronavirus crisis, including survivors of violence, transgender people, homeless people, members of poor Muslim minority groups and migrant labourers.