Combating violence against women
SIEDS (Society for Informal Education and Development Studies) works on the issue of violence against women in Bangalore, India. Part of the work consists of counselling women and legal support for individual cases. Their husbands and the families are also included in the mediation processes. At the same time, SIEDS runs education and information campaigns among the population and for the authorities. The focus is now increasingly on the self-organisation of women in groups and on community work with women, men and children. In order to secure the future of the organisation, SIEDS began a few years ago to consciously hire young staff. The cooperation between the two generations works very well – new staff members are increasingly taking on responsibilities and are developing additional competencies.
The work takes place in three districts and is supported by an Indian foundation in one of them. EcoSolidar has been an important partner for SIEDS for 25 years, because in addition to gender work, we also consciously support the organisation itself and its further development. Photos Christian Jaeggi
Photo report from the project in India
In Anekal, a women’s group has been created by SIEDS in which women meet and exchange ideas regularly. They tell each other their life stories, learn from each other and invigorate each other. At larger meetings numerous women and children come together, and they also sing and eat together.
Some women share their life stories, some of them tell about very difficult experiences of violence, others tell about how they have found their way out of a life of violence.
Here, a female taxi driver talks about her experiences and the challenges of being a woman in this profession.
In Kolar, SIEDS offers, for example, counselling sessions, in which women can discuss their concerns and get concrete help and legal advice. A current issue is the exploitation of women in petrol station jobs. Single women are poorly paid and made so dependent that they become indebted to the owner of the petrol station. SIEDS supports the women concerned in defending themselves against this with the help of the police.
Kolar was the first community in which SIEDS took up its work. The centre has a library, of which SIEDS is very proud. There are books on women’s rights and on the work that SIEDS does. SIEDS also uses these books to spread information and impart knowledge to the population.
In Bagalur, SIEDS is now running a new centre with the support of young social workers. The focus here is on empowering women in all the areas of life, focusing on the access to knowledge and the rights people are entitled to. Here, the women can also take part in trainings on the topics of Computer skills coursehygiene, menstruation and contraception.
Women can acquire computer skills, receive individual counselling on various problems or concerns and get support in dealing with the authorities if they desire.
In addition, there is always education and knowledge transfer on the topic of domestic and public violence against women. The women get information about what they can do in case of violence and who they can turn to.
Women come here to meet and simply take a break in a protected setting. Women are supported in all the areas of life at the centre.
Working with the children is an active part of the community work at the centre in Bagalur. They are cared for in groups and can spend their free time playing, painting and dancing or doing their homework and studying for school.
The children can also come to the centre on their own without being accompanied by their mothers or fathers. Thus, the centre is open to everyone and the whole life of the people in the neighbourhood is a topic there.
In this centre the social workers also explicitly work with the men. According to the idea of outreach social work, they are approached at different places in the neighbourhood and invited to the centre. There they can play games, talk and exchange ideas. They get to see what the women are doing and there is no fear that the women might turn against them. The men are also part of the centre and can inform themselves about different topics.
Six years ago, Kavitha experienced violence in a bad marriage. She then turned to SIEDS and over the past few years has freed herself from her plight. Today she lives in her own flat and has made a remarkable change in her life. SIEDS and the women’s group have accompanied her and given her courage.
Together with Rheka (left), who has a similar story, Kavitha has become a figurehead for SIEDS. Her story gives courage and strength to other women. During our visit this year, the two women were in the process of building their own houses. These success stories are possible because SIEDS is fighting persistently and in the long term for their rights together with the women concerned.