Gramin Mahila Kendra, Assam
Gramin Mahila Kendra (GMK) or Rural Women’s Centre is an initiative by North East Network to provide various support for women in three districts of Assam, namely, Kamrup (R), Darrang and Golaghat. Through the centres NEN aims: i) to provide immediate psycho-social support to women facing violence at home and in the community and linkages with legal mechanisms; ii) to create awareness on GBDVAW and women’s issues at large through community meetings, discussions, workshops/trainings, campaigns and rallies; iii) engage men and youth to address and redress domestic violence; and iv) to create a pool of women grass root leaders. The Centres also provide livelihood opportunities to domestic violence survivors and disadvantaged women and promote creative activities amongst the young. The idea is to adopt a wholesome approach to end violence, promote gender equality and social justice. Through these Centres, NEN is able to create a safe space for survivors of DV. The centres have also become forums for women in the community. These centres have also given NEN a distinct visibility at the grass root level through a wide outreach in different villages.
Each GMK has a staff of two: a trained barefoot counsellor and a community mobiliser. Their responsibility is to provide emotional, psychological support to aggrieved women and referral to other State Agencies for legal aid. From April 2018 – March 2019, the three Centres have received 98 cases of domestic violence. The aggrieved women were provided psycho-social counselling by NEN’s barefoot counsellors. 54 cases were solved and 28 cases were referred to Police, Protection Officers and District Legal Service Authorities, Lawyers, HRLN, etc.
The Grameen Mahila Kendras (GMKs) have come up as common spaces for women and girls in the communities to share their experiences of violence in both private and public spaces, They are also creative learning spaces for activities such as drama, singing, recitation, etc. GMKs and Barefoot Counsellors in all the three districts are oftne approached by men for availing services of this alternative community space for conflict resolution.
In July, 2018 NEN Assam organised a workshop on the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005 for the Social Welfare Officers/Protection officers of different districts of Assam. As a result of this Workshop, the Directorate of Social Welfare Office proposed our GMKs to be registered as Service Providers under PWDVA, 2005 which was done by November. This recognition has helped us to work together with the District Social Welfare Department and other stakeholders more effectively.
Glimpses of activities and events at the Kendras:
One Stop Centre IOHLYNTI, Meghalaya
“Iohlynti” a Khasi word meaning “the way”, is the first hospital based support centre for women established in North East India on 28 November 2011. The Centre was set up to respond to the needs of women facing violence within their homes and the community. The Centre is a joint initiative of the Health & Family Welfare Department, Government of Meghalaya and North East Network (NEN).
Iohlynti was established with the following objectives: (a) to provide immediate social and psychological support for women facing violence; (b) to build the capacity of Health Care Providers on Gender and Violence against Women and; (c) to create awareness on women’s issues at large.
Since its inception in 2011, Iohlynti has received a total of 293 cases of crimes against women (October 2015). The types of cases reported are mostly Domestic Violence complaints ranging from Physical, Emotional, Sexual and Economical Violence. These cases of crimes against women are on the rise, which each passing year Iohlynti receiving more and more cases.
Iohlynti is staffed with a Counselor and Assistant Counselor who meets the needs of its clients from the emotional support needed after an incidence of violence to referral to other State Agencies for legal aid and holistic support when necessary.
Iohlynti ensures to document all its procedures and activities so we are able to monitor and evaluate our work. A Monthly report is provided to the NEN office and quarterly report of cases is provided to the National Rural Health Mission, Meghalaya.
The Centre caters to the need of women and child survivors, however in the recent years, the centre have been receiving cases of Child Sexual Abuse. Especially with the coming of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 – it has become mandatory to report such cases. This comes as a concern for the centre, when looking deeper into the issue that even if mandatory reporting is made, this will in the long run lead to broken families as there will be continued misconceptions of such reporting Therefore, a Convergence Meeting to address the issue with the relevant stakeholders is conducted on the 8th of December 2017, as part of the 16 Days Activism.