- 1 BEMBALA : Support for women and children survivors of violence
- 2 Bembala : being there for a survivor
- 3 Bembala : Whitefield’s First Stop Support Center for Women and Children
- 4 16 Days of Activism
1 Support for women and children survivors of violence
The alarming rise of violence against women and children is a critical concern for Bangalore today. Whitefield Rising, in an effort to address this issue supported a new initiative “Bembala” which is striving to provide support for women and children survivors of violence.
There are four types of violence :(1) Physical violence is any form of injury or harm done to the body and this includes hitting, kicking, beating etc. (2) controlling behavior, is any form of restriction brought to the women, for example not allowing her to go out of the house of not allowing her to seek health care. (3) Emotional abuse includes criticizing, threatening, humiliating, abusing and belittling women. (4) Sexual violence and intimate partner violence, includes forced sex and hurting her during sex. Data analysis of worldwide data to the current figures in Bangalore provided insight and evidence that worldwide, 1 in 3 women face some form of violence at some time in their life.
Area with high crime rates include:
- Peenya Industrial Area
- Whitefield – 2nd category
2015: More than 70% of crimes reported consisted of
- Cruelty by husband/in-laws
- More than 8 crimes against women were reported every day
Over the past 8 months, with the backing of Whitefield Rising, guidance from experienced professionals, and increasing participation from a diverse range of volunteers, BEMBALA (meaning support in Kannada) has coalesced into a group of like-minded individuals whose purpose is to help women and child survivors of all forms of violence.
The idea for the launch of Bembala dates back to an event in March 2018, when a number of people attended a session called “Break the Silence” that was hosted by Whitefield Rising and covered the topic of ‘Domestic Violence’. The panel discussion was headed by a very eminent gender specialist and professional counselor, Kiran Bhatia. She was joined on stage by a group of women who work at Vimochana, an NGO whose work with women in distress for the last 30 plus years in Bangalore has been exceptional. Many stories were shared that day, and the key takeaway was that each woman and child, each survivor, had unique needs that had to be taken into account while responding to them.
Inspired by the panelists and with the energy generated from this March meeting, a group of women decided to start work on creating and launching a support center for women and children. On June 23rd, the name ‘Bembala’ was formally announced to an audience of nearly 30 women and men, and this initiative was officially launched.
Ably mentored by Kiran Bhatia and senior counselors Iram and Smita, over 20 volunteers have been trained in the past few months to become “befrienders”, who will offer free and confidential support to those who have faced violence. In addition to offering a ‘listening ear’ that would help the survivor gain clarity and insight, they will assist them with finding options for protection and empowerment through a strong referral network of counseling, medical/legal aid, safe shelter, police intervention, etc. as required. Several other Bembala volunteers have spent the last 8 months strengthening partnerships with relevant referral agencies and NGOs to collectively assist survivors. With volunteers working on befriending, referral coordination and community outreach, Bembala hopes to bring services from the margin to the center for women and children survivors of violence of Whitefield and Mahadevapura.
When we offered the first learning event on why women and child survivors of violence need a safe space to reach out for support, we faced a room filled with strangers. Little did we imagine the heartwarming response and the coming together of so many of these strangers as volunteers that make Bembala what it is today. They came from across Whitefield and beyond, from different backgrounds and professions, varying ages, religions and cultures. They came with a curiosity, a deep eagerness to help offering themselves, their knowledge and skills but also a lot of humility to learn and unlearn.
Our demands were tough; get selected, attend all the training, commit to regular duty, travel across Bangalore to check out referral agencies, attend an all weekend meeting. Can you write? translate? design? collect things and support a training event?
They still came in growing numbers.
And what is the glue that keeps us going? The reasons haven’t changed since Befriending was discovered decades ago. The deep satisfaction of being able to support a survivor who found the courage to reach out to us. The guided space to reflect on yourself and discover your own biases and strengths. The powerful experience of empathy and being an intimate part of a broken person discover their strength or walk a path they never thought they could.
This is Bembala. A month old and rearing to go! Come join us to celebrate being there for the women who need us and for each other.
3.1 Neighborhood Survivor Story:
I sat cringing on the floor watching my 18 month playing, trying not to yell with the pain each time the slipper hit my head….my neck….my arm, pretending this was normal.
I realised that day that I did not want my daughter growing up thinking this was acceptable. Was I not worth more? I walked out.
Today I’m an entrepreneur, a single mother, a happy woman. I laugh, I feel safe, I travel, I hang out with friends. I am worth more.
It wasn’t easy. Each day has its trials. I wonder how I will grow old alone or how I will pay the next round of fees. But I survive.
I sit, relaxed watching my daughter doing her homework; growing up knowing she is worth the world and nothing less. This is my success!
3.2 Community Outreach:
Survivors, stories, camaraderie – Bol Sakhi.
At the heart of Bol Sakhi are women sharing their stories like friends creating support and giving strength.
Centred around the befriender concept at our centre in Vydehi hospital, Bol Sakhi encourages women to break the silence in a non-judgmental space that holds the power to inspire thought-provoking dialogue, create awareness and build mutual trust by sharing their stories.
Bol Sakhi literally translated means ‘Speak Friend’ and that is exactly what we are going to do. Creating a society that has zero tolerance towards violence, by uniting women’s strength and encouraging those facing violence to seek support; find empowerment; and build safe lives for themselves.
3.3 Center Update:
The Bembala Center at Vydehi opened its doors on the 30th of Jan. This in itself has been possible because of the kindness and good will of so many individuals and organizations. The center has a center manager and two befrienders available during working hours. The team has reached out to the Doctors, PGs and nurses in the different departments of Vydehi, to inform them about our presence in the campus. The survivors have started walking-in and our befrienders are meeting them with empathy and compassion. There is a sense of satisfaction when the survivors leave the center with better clarity and a feeling of empowerment. It has also been gratifying to get referrals from NGOs and from within the campus.
4 Sixteen Days of Activism
Day three of the 16 days of activism to stop violence against women and girls. Do find time to watch this TED talk on how violence against women is as much men’s concern and impacts them and families and communities. Do share further.
Day Four of the 16 days of activism for the elimination of violence against women and girls
Did you reflect on why this is the largest human right s violation in the world today? Why women and girls represent 50% of the world population regardless of age, nationality, religion, location, education and economic status face more violence through their life than men and boys ?
Day 5 of the 16 days of activism to eliminate violence against women and girls. Here are some key reasons why this should be every ones concern. Think about how violence against women impacts women , their families , communities and hinders social economic development. Discuss with others, reflect and think what you can do about it!
Day 6 : 16 days of activism to eliminate violence against women and children.
Watch this interactive video on the different forms of violence against women and girls. Follow the menu and explore the global facts about some of the major forms of violence.
Share further to inform others and increase commitment to combat this pandemic.
Day 7 : 16 days of activism to eliminate violence against women and girls.
Most of our energy goes in responding to the immediate and complex needs of survivors of violence. Let’s think about prevention.. what can we do as individuals, a community and society to reduce violence and address risk factors.
Here are some long term interventions that can work at each level .
Many success stories available ! Reflect and see if you can identify any…
more on prevention .What can you do to raise boys differently?
Day 7 of activism to eliminate violence against women and girls
Day 9- 16 days …are you aware about what to do if a child or women experienced some form of sexual violence? What are the laws and protocols and where can you seek assistance?
Day 10: 16 days of activism to eliminated violence against women and girls. Stop and reflect today on Child Marriage.
Each year 12 million girls are married before the age of 18. It happens across countries, cultures and religions.
Did you know that India tops the list with the highest absolute number of child marriages.
Source UNICEF State of the worlds children 2017
Child marriage is rooted in gender inequality and patriarchy.Girls are valued less than boys and suffer life long physical and emotional consequences due to early marriage .
Globally, girls who marry before 15 are 50% more likely to face physical and sexual violence from a partner.
Child’s marriage is a crime . Visit Girls not brides to learn more ! Http://www.girlsnotbrides.org
Day 11: 16 days of activism to eliminate Violence against women and girls.
All violence is learnt behaviour based on attitudes and beliefs and strengthened by social customs and norms. All violence is not physical- and we need to act against all of the above!
Day 12: of the 16 days of activism to eliminate violence against women and girls.
A lot of successful efforts globally have addressed discrimination and violence against girls and women in sports. Here is an Infographic with 10 essentials to address violence against women through sports. While these are very for large scale organisations , they provide good insight into how much needs to be done and CAN make a difference !!See the promising practice examples!
Day 14 of the 16 days of activism to eliminate violence against women.
Some of the worst forms of violence women and girls face are due to a range of harmful practice. These include gender biased sex selection where girls are not allowed to be born due to son preference and daughter aversion. Some states like Haryana have the lowest sex ratio with millions of girls “missing” causing an alarming imbalance in the sex-ratio with huge consequences for women, men and communities.
Female Genital cutting is another harmful practice causing life long damage to women.
Harmful practices can only reduce with long term efforts at providing evidence on the risks and consequences, advocating for [null wonwns][RG1] and girls and rights and improved legal reform and enforcement.
And it’s the 15th day of activism for the elimination of violence against women.
As we come to the international Human Rights Day let’s look at two scenarios; one and example of a society where there is high prevalence of violence against women and girls
And the second the kind of society we need to strive for the well being of all human beings ; girls boys, men and women.
What can we do in our everyday lives to move towards the second scenario??