Nearly 55% of the cases received by Kudumbasree’s gender helpline Snehitha in Ernakulam in 2018 pertain to domestic violence.
The centre, which offers counselling, legal aid, short stay home facility or provides rehabilitation support to women and children who have survived assault, has handled till June this year, 332 cases of domestic violence which marks a steep rise from the 245 cases of domestic violence – 49% of the total cases – dealt by it in the whole of 2017. Domestic violence cases accounted for 80% of the total cases handled by the centre in 2016 and 70% of the overall cases in 2015.
Since its inception in 2013, Snehitha centres across the State have cumulatively attended to 2,446 cases of domestic aggression.
Of the cases received by the Ernakulam centre so far this year, legal support was provided in 150 cases, mediation and counselling were done in 80 cases while de-addiction support was sought in 75 cases. In 12 cases, women who survived domestic assault were supported by the centre and Kudumbasree to notch up an income generating occupation while in 15 cases, the survivors had to be rehabilitated.
Helping them move on
“Snehitha has become a refuge for women and children in distress to unburden themselves and move on in life with robust systemic support,” says Kavitha Govind, counsellor at the Ernakulam centre.
Snehitha has presence and short stay homes in all districts in the State.
Ms. Govind attributes the rise in number of cases to increased awareness among women as a result of campaigns and sensitisation programmes held by various agencies, including Kudumbasree, with the support of local bodies.
Child sexual abuse
The centre has handled 4,101 cases of gender violence, assault, rape and sexual abuse of children since its inception. “That there have been 270 cases of sexual violence and 162 cases of violence against minors is alarming, as these are in addition to such cases received by Childline and the Child Welfare Committee (CWC),” says Ms. Govind.
The centre offers counselling, mediation and legal aid (with KELSA’s support) especially in respect of serious cases of domestic violence and the short stay home run by an all-women staff plays a key role in putting the survivors at home. “Mothers who are survivors of violence at home or rape find it far more comforting as they don’t have to stay here separated from their children.” Help is also extended to find women survivors in need of employment stitch together self-employment opportunities.
Sexual abuse against children is immediately reported to the CWC. The centre in Ernakulam has five service providers with a 24×7 service window. There are two security personnel, an office assistant and a caretaker. Ms. Govind says women survivors of assault in need of finances are supported to obtain loans under various Central and State schemes for farming or medium and small scale businesses.
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