The anti-domestic violence group in Roopena Agrahara was set up in 2011 thanks to the Karnataka Garment Workers Union. Through meeting and speaking about work, the women came to feel the need for a dedicated group for an issue shared by many: domestic violence. Jeanne P., intern at FEDINA, came to meet the women vigilance committee and its brave members.
In India and in regard to domestic violence, women seemed to have an endless strength. More and more go out to work, look after their households and fight for better living conditions. FEDINA helps them with the latter struggle, organizing conferences on women’s rights and legal aid. Each focus group has a monthly meeting with a member of FEDINA to help women along the road to freedom.
Rihana, her fight for respect
Her name is Rihana. She has been involved in the anti-domestic violence group from the start. Rihana suffered countless attacks in her home, but the worst was when she woke up to find herself covered in petrol, her husband standing over her: ‘Shall I burn you tonight or another night?’ At the time, she just had the strength to beg him to put out the match, but talking to someone about these ‘domestics’ was impossible for her.
In joining the union, Rihana gained confidence in herself and courage to speak to her husband. She also gained a network of friends by joining the union. Little by little, over the course of 4 years, she came to understand that this group of women would be the first not to say ‘it’s your own fault‘ if she spoke about her domestic situation. Today she feels free to talk about her past suffering and to stand up to her husband: her life changed considerably.
‘We are not afraid’
When a victim of domestic violence decides to break her silence, the group listens to her and then acts.
The objective is to protect the woman and stop the violence: the greater the ill, the greater the response.
The group and the new member go to the house of the victim and they in turn attack the abusive husband, until he promises to stop abusing his wife.
Generally speaking, when a man is intimidated, the violence stops. This ‘working method‘ is very efficient but was not easy to begin with.
The women in the group have had to bear insults and threats. Now, though, they don’t even hear them. ‘We know what we’re doing and we’re not afraid.’ In just one year, they have composed a hard-core of 15 women always ready, day or night, to go and knock at the door of an abusive husband.
Over 70% of women experience domestic violence
A well-documented study in 2010 about domestic violence showed that:
- Social background has no effect on domestic violence ;
- The level of education of the women has no effect (for men, there is a link of negative correlation) ;
- The presence of a child has no incidence ;
- The income of the family and the professions of the wife or husband make no difference either.
It has also been observed that domestic violence intensifies in the lack of outside intervention.
Over 70% of women experience domestic violence, but there are men who support those who fight against it. Some of these men even go with the group to take on an abusive husband side to side with women : at FEDINA we are convinced that only through collective action women will be able to achieve respect.