What the numbers mean: Data on Violence against Women

There’s been a lot of discussion in the print media over the last couple of weeks about data and statistics on different forms of gender and sexual violence. What numbers are there in India? What do they mean? How can we interpret them? What do they tell us and what do they hide?

In 2011, we organised a seminar to discuss exactly this, inviting representatives from the police, service provider organisations, lawyers, journalists, academics and students, among others. Much has changed in the two years since in terms of public awareness and attitudes towards violence – however, it does appear that little has changed in terms of data-related challenges.

Do read the excerpt from the seminar report below. You can access the full report here.

Making numbers count: The gender violence tally
16 September 2011: Seminar Report
The lack of accurate, accessible, updated and relevant data on gender violence remains a real stumbling block for the many non-profit organisations and governments that grapple with this issue. Why is it so important to have this data, to understand it and to use itproperly? Given that gender and sexual violence get little attention, numbers become essential for ‘flag-waving’, for holding up as evidence, proof, to backup anecdotal evidence. Most of all, good data conveys the urgency of the problem in ways that nothing else can.
For these and other reasons, data on gender violence was the focus of Prajnya’s first full-day research seminar.‘Making numbers count: The gender violence tally” was organised on 16 September 2011 to discuss four dimensions of data collection on gender violence: What are the available sources of data on gender violence in Tamil Nadu? Is all available data good data; indeed, what is good data? What challenges do we face in collecting data on certain specific forms of violence? How can we, through our work as activists, researchers or service providers, help gather high quality data on gender violence?
Also read:
Albeena Shakil in EPW on what the most recent data on rape and honour crimes in India tells us. Rape and Honour Crimes: The NCRB Report 2012, 3 August 2013, EPW.
A comprehensive and accessible infographic on NCRB data from The Hindu. Data busts some myths on sexual violence, 3 September 2013, The Hindu.
Rukmini S in The Hindu on how and why the NCRB undercounts crimes against women. India officially undercounts all crimes including rape, 13 September 2013, The Hindu.
Dilip D’Souza in Livemint on the many questions that official data on sexual violence raises. Report a rape today, 12 September 2013, Livemint.
And finally, Meena Menon in The Hindu on similar data-related challenges that Pakistan faces, in terms of violence against women. Women grapple with violence in Pakistan, 16 September 2013, The Hindu.
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What do you do if you have been raped?

Nisha Susan takes a ‘comprehensive look at how Indian women can navigate the first few days after rape’. Read the excerpt below and the full story here (Yahoo India, 2 July 2013).

What do you do if you have been raped?

Despite being warned to expect it all your life, despite all the chatter of the last few months, you probably still don’t know how to deal with sexual assault. A comprehensive look at how Indian women can navigate the first few days after rape.

For many women there comes that odd, jolting moment when you realize you have structured your life around avoiding being raped.

That moment sneaks up on you. Perhaps it’s because you caught yourself thinking twice about sitting down on the footpath. You were tired while waiting for the bus but you thought twice and continued standing, holding your heavy bag. And suddenly it occurred to you that you didn’t want to sit on the footpath because you didn’t want to attract attention, and you didn’t want to attract attention because you didn’t want to be raped. And in that moment the absurdity hit you. It’s as if you had been a man and every sentient particle of your life had been arranged around avoiding being mugged or murdered.

That moment sneaks up on you. The moment passes and you go back to unconsciously arranging your life around avoiding this one crime. Every time you hear footsteps behind you, every time you open your front door, every time you walk through a basement parking lot, every time you turn into a dark street, you wonder – Is this the one? Is this how it’s going to happen? As comedian Ever Mainard says, “The problem is that every woman has that one moment when you think, here’s my rape! This is it. OK, 11:47 pm, how old am I? 25? All right, here’s my rape! It’s like we wait for it, like, what took you so long?”

For some of us – for at least 24,923 documented Indian women in 2012 alone – there has come that other unfortunate, jolting moment when you have been raped.

Three out of four times, you are likely to have been raped by someone familiar, someone familial: your uncle comes to drop off a tiffin box and stays to chase you round the house, breaking everything you try to hide behind, pulling the landline wire out of the wall. Your brother-in-law tries to rape you when you are five months pregnant. Your former husband decides that divorce isn’t quite enough. The sarpanch of your village. Your nephew. Your brother’s friend. Your brother. Your father.

Here is your rape. It has come. And here comes that epiphany. The realization that you have been warned about this moment your whole life but still don’t know what you are supposed to do afterwards.

After December 16, after the gang rape in Delhi, parents across India have clutched harder at their restless daughters. Well-meaning men and women have recited the gruesome details of that gang rape to each other, asking, “Can you imagine anything worse?” Women talk to their friends about how much more scared they are of strangers. A warm fug of paranoia has enveloped us, binding us closer to the homes and neighbourhoods where we apparently need not fear anything.

But here is that moment in that familiar place. You have been raped. Six months of paranoia later – are you kidding me, a lifetime of paranoia later – you still don’t know what you are supposed to do.If you are the kind of person who thinks buying insurance is inviting death or illness, you may not want to read any further. Crippling your life with the fear of rape – you’ve got plenty of that already.

You may choose not to seek justice, to never report the crime, to not discuss it. But if you wish to make a recovery, if you intend to seek justice, if you want to punish the man or men who have raped you, the first 24 hours are the most crucial. Coping with that first day’s procedures will shape the way rape affects your life.

What’s the data from the new WHO study on VAW and its health impacts telling us?

Earlier this week, WHO published new data on global and regional estimates of violence against women. This is based on a study assessing the ‘prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence’ and was carried out by WHO in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council.

While acknowledging that women experience many forms of violence, the study focuses specifically on intimate partner violence which is defined as a ‘self-reported experience of one or more acts of physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former partner since the age of 15 years’. The report also acknowledges that the term ‘intimate partner’ is understood differently in different settings, both legally and culturally. So this includes married couples as well as those in live-in relationships, those dating and those engaged in sexual relationships (not necessarily married). There’s no explicit reference but my assumption is the study has focused only on heterosexual relationships.

Incidentally, there’s no specific legal category in Indian law for intimate partner violence. However the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005 extends to those who are in live-in relationships and not just married couples.

What’s also interesting is the inclusion of ‘self-reported experiences’ of violence in arriving at the global prevalence rates. We always talk about how official data and statistics, i.e cases reported to the police, are merely the tip of the iceberg and we have to assume there are many many more that don’t get reported. By including self-reported experiences (often considered the gold standard in violence research), the research team has circumvented the tricky challenge of under-reporting to a certain extent.

A word on the research methodology: this report is not based on new data specifically collected by the research team but on rigorous analysis of existing data from 155 studies in 81 countries. See Section 1 of the report for a detailed discussion on the methodology, challenges and limitations of the study.

So what are the key findings?

Excerpts from the Executive Summary on page 2 of the report:

  • Overall, 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence;

  • Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner. In some regions, 38% of women have experienced intimate partner violence;

  • Globally, as many as 38% of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners;

  • Women who have been physically or sexually abused by their partners report higher rates of a number of important health problems. For example, they are 16% more likely to have a low-birth-weight baby. They are more than twice as likely to have an abortion, almost twice as likely to experience depression, and, in some regions, are 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, as compared to women who have not experienced partner violence;

  • Globally, 7% of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner. There are fewer data available on the health effects of non-partner sexual violence. However, the evidence that does exist reveals that women who have experienced this form of violence are 2.3 times more likely to have alcohol use disorders and 2.6 times more likely to experience depression or anxiety.

So what does this new data tell us?

1. That globally, 1 in 3 women experience intimate partner or non-partner violence at some point in their lives.

2. Countries in South-East Asia (WHO-defined region that includes India and other South Asian countries) have the highest prevalence, at a staggering 37.7%. The Eastern Mediterranean and African regions aren’t far behind, with prevalence rates of 37% and 36.6% respectively.

3.There is a real and urgent case to view violence against women as a public health issue, and not merely a criminal or law and order problem. This has serious long-term implications for how we train our health care professionals on how to respond to violence.In the words of the study authors, this is ‘a global health problem of epidemic proportions’.

4. When a woman experiences violence, whether once or repeatedly, it has a definitive impact on her physical and mental health. Of course, we already know this but the report draws our attention to evidence that highlights the association between violence and a long (but select) list of health outcomes including HIV infection, incident sexually transmitted infections (STIs), induced abortion, low birth weight, premature birth, growth restriction in utero and/or small for gestational age, alcohol use, depression and suicide, injuries, and death from homicide.

The health sector in particular has been slow to engage with violence against women. Yet, this report presents clear evidence that exposure to violence is an important determinant of poor health for women.

…..The findings underpin the need for the health sector to take intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women more seriously. All health-care providers should be trained to understand the relationship between violence and women’s ill health and to be able to respond appropriately. Multiple entry points within the health sector exist where women may seek health  care – without necessarily disclosing violence – particularly in sexual and reproductive health services (e.g. antenatal care, post-abortion care, family planning), mental health and emergency services. The new WHO guidelines for the health sector response to intimate partner violence and sexual violence (110 ) emphasize the urgent need to integrate these issues into undergraduate curricula for all health-care providers, as well as in in-service training.

So? What now?

In many ways of course, this is nothing we didn’t already know. However for those of us who knock on doors in the health sector and meet apathy or disinterest, the findings of this study are a potentially valuable tool. At Prajnya, we’ve done some nascent work in training health care professionals, primarily nurses, to recognise and respond to violence. Across the board, we’ve found that existing curricula rarely contains anything about dealing with violence, barring cursory mentions in the context of either HIV/STI or reproductive health. Trainee nurses were often unsure of what constitutes violence, when to intervene, whether its any of their business at all, what they should say, what they shouldn’t say, how they could help…

After all, asking anyone about her/his experience of violence isn’t easy. How then can we expect a young 22-year-old nurse who has received no training whatsoever to offer someone she suspects has experienced physical or sexual violence, the right kind of support? The study report stresses on the importance of training health care workers at all levels – this includes doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, community workers, NGO staff – the list is long.

Bottom line: there’s lots of work to be done, we really should get going sooner than later.

PS – Incidentally, according to WHO, at the Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly held recently in May 2013, seven governments – Belgium, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, United States of America, and Zambia – declared violence against women and girls “a major global public health, gender equality and human rights challenge, touching every country and every part of society” and proposed the issue should appear on the agenda of the Sixty-seventh World Health Assembly.

Some useful links:

A quick overview of the report is available here.

The full report: Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence (WHO 2013)

Responding to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women: WHO clinical and policy guidelines (WHO 2013)

In India, CEHAT has done pioneering work on health sector responses to sexual violence and assault. Their publications are accessible here.

Not Silence but Verse

Thank you, Gayathri, for sharing your poetry with us!

சீதை நினைத்தாள் :இலங்கையில் இருந்ததற்கே இந்த ராமன் நம்மை தீயில் இட்டானேநல்ல நேரம் நாம் டெல்லி-யில் இல்லாமற் போனோம் !!————————-

மாதர் தம்மை இழிவு செய்யும் மடமையை கொளுத்திடவும்பெண் பித்து பிடித்த துஷ்டர்களை சம்ஹாரம் செய்யவும்மஹிஷாசுர மர்தினி ‘Chalo Delhi ‘ என்று பூமி ஏகினாளாம்

தன் கற்பையும் இழந்து பரலோகம் திரும்பினாளாம்

Full text version of what Kavitha Krishnan said

The YouTube video’s doing the rounds but here’s the full text (translated) version of what Kavitha Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), said while protesting outside the Delhi Chief Minister’s residence:

“Today we protested outside Sheila Dixit’s house…and demanded that she should resign [over the inability of the govt to provide safety for women in Delhi streets]. It is important to understand why we are asking for this in more depth, and also to explain to them [the administration]. Sheila Dixit has said that since the rape happened in a private bus, not on a DTC [public service/Delhi Transport Corporation] bus, how is she responsible? So we have come to educate her, that if there are buses in which iron rods just lie about, where monsters travel around the city in these buses, where there are no rules or regulations for the operation of these buses, where they can do anything, for this you alone are responsible, no one else. Today, if that girl is fighting for her life, you are responsible. Why was that iron rod lying in that bus, this answer only you can give us, no one else. You cannot blame anyone else for this.

But there is a further, more important issue here, that we came here to protest today but have also been doing [for the past few days]. When journalist Soumya [Viswanathan] was killed, Sheila Dixit had said that she was out and about at 3 in the morning, she was too ‘adventurous’. So we have come here to say that women have every right to be adventurous. We will be adventurous. We will be reckless. We will be rash. We will not do anything to secure our ‘safety.’ Don’t tell us what to wear. What time at night we should be out, how we should be out during the day, how many people we should have with us – don’t tell us any of that. When Neeraj Kumar had just become Police Commissioner, he held a press conference in which he said, what can the police do in cases of rape? First he said that most often it is people who are well known to the woman who rape her. He is right, this is a fact. But then, shouldn’t this make it easier for them to be caught? After all, if she knows who has raped her, then it should make it all the easier to catch him. We are not asking the police, why didn’t you stop it. But we are asking them this: the conviction rate, which has gone from 46% in 1971 to 26% now, who is responsible for that? This tells us that there is a frightening gap, a lack in the police’s investigations…there is no procedure on how you must proceed in cases of rape. There is only one procedure that I think all women and girls standing here are familiar with. If you go to a police station and say that you have been the target of sexual violence, the first thing they will tell you is not to file an FIR [First Information Report]. People will come from all over, even from outside the police station to explain to you, “don’t file a complaint.” Until you go up the chain of command and say that you are from a students’ group, or a women’s group, nothing happens. This is so ordinary, there can hardly be a woman in all of Delhi who doesn’t know that this is the normal procedure that the police follow, not written in any rule book, it’s regular practice.

There is yet another thing that Neeraj Kumar had said in that press conference – that women shouldn’t travel alone at night, they should have someone with them. If you are out at 2 in the morning, how can you expect that we [the police] will come to save you? Now in this rape that has occurred, it is clear – it was neither 2 at night, and there was someone with her. Now if a woman wants to be out and about at night, there should not be the need to justify that she has to be out because she is working, she is returning from work. If she wants to be out, if she wants to go get a cigarette, if she wants to take a stroll, this desire should not be made into her crime. We don’t want to hear this defensive argument – that women only leave their houses for jobs, poor things, what can they do, they are compelled to leave their homes. We believe that women’s freedom – whether it is within the home or outside it, at night or in the daytime, whatever she is wearing – is an important matter and this freedom to be, a freedom from fear, must be protected. That is what we are asking for. I am saying this also because I feel that the word(s) security and protection in relation to women are thrown about a lot – because this word security, and all of us women have heard it from our families, our communities, from the principal, the warden, we all know what it means. Security means – you behave yourself. You get back into the house. You don’t dress in a particular way. Don’t live on your terms of independence, that is what they mean by being safe. All the patriarchal norms and rules of society are gathered up and given to women as ‘protection’ and we reject this entirely, we are saying this is not what we want.

The Delhi Police has been running a campaign against violence against women. You might have seen the hoardings up near ITO…in an ad campaign regarding violence against women, there is not a single woman! There is a male film actor, Farhaan Akhtar, who is saying, Be a Man, join me in protecting women. So I want to ask, the brother who cuts his sister’s head off because she marries into another community, is he not fulfilling his duty of being a man, of being a brother? Is evoking masculinity part of the solution of violence against women, or is it the very root of it? It is very important to think about this. In the entire country, this is what we see outside the women’s movement, whether it is in government, police organisations, political parties, the judiciary…whenever they talk about the protection of women, they are talking specifically of a patriarchal protection of women. They are not talking about a freedom without fear, an unqualified freedom for women. Our work is this – the work of these agitations on the street which have been going on and I hope they continue – that the answer to such events does not lie in CCTV cameras, in the death penalty, in chemical castration. Our anger is legitimate, but I am fearful of “solutions” like this. If the problem is the conviction rate, how will the death penalty help? The conviction rate is low because in your entire procedure relating to rape, you don’t take the complainant seriously. It is another matter that the rape legislation is bad, it’s weak – rape by objects used to penetrate the woman’s body does not even feature in the definition of rape. A significant part of what happened on that bus in Munirka, which was so deadly, so dangerous for the girl, does not even qualify as rape under the law.

Here there is one more thing I would like to stress – Sushma Swaraj gave a speech in parliament in which she said something that I found utterly disgusting. Highly condemnable. She said, even if this girl lives, she will be a living corpse. Why? If this girl lives, I believe she will live with her head held high. She has fought. She fought, and that’s why, to teach her a lesson, the rapists beat and raped her. There can hardly be a woman here who hasn’t fought in Delhi’s buses, who hasn’t stood alone in her fight against this violence. Who hasn’t felt utterly alone in these situations. I read in the papers, I don’t know if it’s true, but I read that when she gained consciousness, she asked whether the rapists had been caught. Her desire to fight is still strong, it is not over. We salute that desire to fight, those who survive rape are not living corpses. They are fully alive, fighting, striving women and we salute all such women.

The last thing I would like to say is this: There are plenty of people who say in times like this – let’s not politicise the matter. But there is a need to talk about it, and politics is not cheapened by it. The culture of rape, the justification by people from up high – like KPS Gill who said that rape occurs because women wear tight clothes – the vast number of people who say these kinds of things…if we want to change this then we must make rape a political issue. We have to talk more about what women are saying about the violence that is done to them. And the government will have to listen. Shedding some crocodile tears in parliament isn’t going to be enough. By shouting about the death penalty you won’t be able to solve this problem. I find it ironic that the BJP is the loudest when it comes to asking for the death penalty, but states where they are in power, their own goons run about harassing girls wearing jeans, girls who have Muslim or Christian boyfriends, and warn them that girls have to be the carriers of Hindu culture and values, or else. We have to respond to these thugs with a counter-culture, a counter-politics of our own. One that demands women’s rights to full freedom, fearless living. We have been attacked by water cannons here by the police, and I have to say I have been really surprised by that. There are demonstrations all over the city, and surely the government should have some sense that this anger that people have is not going to be beaten back by water cannons and lathis. It is shameful that the government and police are ever-ready to attack those who fight for women’s rights, while presenting arguments oh behalf of the rapists.”

English Translation by Amrita Ibrahim (sourced via Facebook)

Why I haven’t stopped thinking about Jennifer Hopper and Teresa Butz

Crossposting from The Blue Pencil, our media watch blog:

Why I haven’t stopped thinking about Jennifer Hopper and Teresa Butz

Since I read Eli Sanders Pultizer-winning feature, ‘The Bravest Woman in Seattle‘, published in The Stranger, I haven’t stopped thinking about Jennifer Hopper and Teresa Butz. I read right through, and I’m not ashamed to say that I had to stop and take deep breaths on occasion. But at the same time, I could not stop reading.

Honestly, I do not have the words to describe why this is one of the most beautifully written pieces I have ever read in my life. But suffice to say that Eli Sanders has not just told the horrific story of what happened to Jennifer Hopper and Teresa Butz on that July night in Seattle, but he has told it with immense respect, upholding every possible standard of high-quality, ethical, long-form journalism.

As a friend whom I emailed the link to just said to me: How can a piece about something so horrific be so beautifully done. But it is.

Please also read the follow-up, in Jennifer Hopper’s own words: I would like you to know my own name.

 

Seminar report: Making Numbers Count

Very belatedly, here’s a brief report on the seminar we organised late last year – Making Numbers Count: The Gender Violence Tally. This seminar was special for many reasons – as a milestone, since it was our first full day research seminar but more importantly, because it discussed an issue that had been – and continues to – bother us. As people who work on gender violence, we often wonder about the data that exists, the data we need and the data we lack. This seminar was a first attempt at beginning a conversation around this and we are very grateful to all those who took the time to be there!

You can read the report here

What do we do when its the ‘Same Old, Same Old’

A very thoughtful – and timely – column in Open Magazine (19 May 2012) by Aimee Ginsburg, the India correspondent for Yedioth Achronoth, Israel’s largest daily. In ‘Same Old, Same Old‘, Ginsburg goes back 25 years, to when she was part of a fledgling campaign called ‘You are not Alone’ and the fight for Tel Aviv’s first rape crises centre.

Same Old, Same Old

How do you make a new story every time out of a problem that just won’t go away?

TL, a young colleague who writes for a daily in north India, was in touch the other day through Facebook (God bless Facebook). She has been trying to come up with an original way to cover the frequent rapes and the misogynist attitude of police in the National Capital Region (NCR) “and everywhere else”. Her editor has refused, saying it has been “done to death”. “But everything is still the same,” she told him. “Sorry, the story is old,” was the reply. TL feels a deep need to add her voice for change (‘the reason I became a journalist,’ she writes), and asked if I might have an idea on how to report one of the oldest stories in the world.

This takes me back 25 years, to when I took part in the birth of the first rape crises centre in Tel Aviv. We’d had enough. It was clear the police were never going to change their blame-the-victim attitude; that left to themselves, they would never change the abrasive, intimidating, humiliating protocols they invoked when it came to crimes involving ‘sex’. Police officers, politicians, judges, all voiced this well-worn opinion: it’s the women themselves who ask for it, and therefore deserve what they get. We were fed up, and started an awareness-raising campaign called ‘You Are Not Alone’.

I was a radio journalist and a columnist of feminist affairs (a pioneering venture at the time). I asked many women, some VIPs and celebrities among them, to share their experiences. Everyone had a story—about the guy on the bus or movie theatre; their boss, army commander, professor; their uncle, brother-in-law, father. Some did come out and speak on air, but many more stayed quiet, ashamed. For all my pioneering spunk, I was part of the latter lot.

If I’d had the nerve, this (of many such) is the story I might have told. Once when I was relatively junior, I did a late night radio interview with G, a superstar journalist, bohemian, radical leftwinger, cool guy. I had admired him immensely, for years. After the show, he and S, a friend of his, pulled out a bottle of cheap cognac and we drank and smoked right there in the studio. I was thrilled, obviously, and so glad I had worn my Mao hat and Nicaraguan hoop earrings. It must have been 3 am by the time S drove us all home. When we stopped to drop off G, he insisted I come in to see how great his house was, “just for a sec”, while S stayed in the car. The moment I walked in, he locked the door, pinned me to it, yelled out to S to drive away, and started sending his hands everywhere. I was trying to break free. He was surprisingly strong. I was really scared. I was yelling to S “Don’t go! Don’t go!” and G was yelling “Go! F—k off now!” Finally, I kneed him, opened the door, and ran to the car. “Thanks,” I said, trying to catch my breath. G drove a few blocks, to where there were no houses or streetlights, stopped the car, and jumped on me, my head banging on the window. When I managed to push him off and get out of the car, I realised I would have to walk 7 km through a very dark Jerusalem. I agreed to let him drive me home, my hand tight on the door handle. I stayed in bed for three days, small, ashamed.

Three years later, I received a journalism award for my ‘work to improve the lives of women’. The new spokesperson for the awarding (feminist) organisation called to give me the news and congratulate me. He introduced himself. It was S. I reminded him of that night. Silence. “So that was you,” he finally said. “Yup,” I answered. I fantasised about outing him at the award ceremony, but did not.

(I just learnt while writing this piece that S, a leftist and sympathiser of the Palestinian cause, was shot and killed several years ago by Palestinians during a terror attack. Should I hold my peace? What is the equation here? I am lost. I’ve changed his initials to deepen his anonymity, and send my prayers to his family.)

Twenty-five years later, what started as a noisy ‘You Are Not Alone’ campaign, has led to profound improvements in protocol and attitudes to this issue—the conviction and imprisonment of the country’s ex-president on charges of rape and sexual harassment not the least of them. Stick with it, I told TL. This is our news, old or new, and we can tell it any way we want.

In the news: Facing up to Rape

An editorial in The Hindu today (18 May 2012) on poor conviction rates and delayed justice for those who report rape in India. ‘Facing up to Rape’ points out that increased reporting of gender and sexual violence (up from 2919 in 1973 to 20,262 in 2010) has not been matched by an increase in conviction rates (in fact, down from 37 per cent to 26 per cent in the same period).

This is something all of us at Prajnya always worry about, as we think up and organise programmes, workshops, etc. We urge women to be bold, to assert themselves, to report crimes, to end the silence. But it sometimes does seem like we’re creating the demand without any supply to meet it. And somewhere, that doesn’t seem right. No easy answers of course, but this seems as good a time as any to voice our concerns.

Prajnya Fundraising Drive 2012: 8 Lakhs, 12 weeks

As many of you will remember, our work on gender violence began rather modestly, with the annual 16 Days Campaign. But we soon discovered that we needed to – and others needed us to – focus our energies on this issue year-round. The Gender Violence Research and Information Taskforce was created to meet a real demand for more platforms, spaces, workshops where we could talk openly about violence.

In many ways, this parallels the manner in which Prajnya itself has grown. Very swiftly in some ways, as we’ve said elsewhere –work, ideas, community–and very slowly in others–financial, material and human resources (as in hands available on deck). We’ve struggled with how to provide for ourselves, how to plan and how to do all the things we want, as well as we want to do them.

We’ve not done so badly. Borrowing space for an office, working as a volunteer team for the most part and using every free resource as optimally as we know (like this blog and social networks), we’ve managed to do quite a bit. We think so, and so do our friends.

But when you think about it, with space and labour underwritten, our costs are very low, so we wondered: why shouldn’t we able to make a rational appeal to our friends for support, an appeal that reflects our frugal style? So we are trying to raise Rs. 800,000/- between January 1 and March 31, 2012. Not a whole lot of money, really, for one year of activity that includes several publication education efforts (for example, workshops to help young people and health care professionals respond to violence), the fourth 16 Days Campaign as well as our research initiatives.

800,000 works out to 80 donations of 10,000 , 800 donations of 1000 each. Surely we can meet this modest target? With your help, we know we can. After all, it is your support that has brought us this far.

Read our full appeal letter and see how you can donate today.