A journey towards empowerment
The entire world knows too well how women in developing countries suffer due to traditional male dominance in every sphere of life. The south Asian phenomenon is no different. Women inclusion in the social, political and economic domains is so abysmally low that putting up statistics would be a shameful thing to do. At an average, women do not occupy more than 11 percent space in most of the important decision making positions. Odisha, a highly resource-rich eastern state in India is horribly infamous for ignoring women.
The post-globalisation times have been witnessing terrible things happening in nearly all the developing countries. The ‘Profit-for-pleasure’ only mentality of the common man has caused irreparable erosion in human values that kept communities happy and harmonious for age. Most shockingly women have been reduced to mere commodities of pleasure. They are considered ordinary commercial things that are bought ands sold for money. The dignity of women is only a part of classical history today. Exploitation of women has reached an all-time peak though there is much talk of emancipation of women, which truly is a phenomenon of highly industrially affluent societies. It is also true that the urban locations are a shade better in providing opportunities to women on all counts than in the rural and tribal belts. It is shameful to know that a global survey rates India as the fourth most dangerous place for women, next to Afghanistan, Congo and Somalia. Not surprisingly, crime against women is rampant. The much-hyped Delhi gang rape case caught public attention only due to the fact that Delhi is a capital city and the media fed on the sensation. Once media splashes horrific news with a perfect timing, the public outcry becomes hugely loud. But the truth is similar cases are happening at many nooks and corners of the country, but they are not reported. If they are covered by the media, then there shall only be ‘crime against women news’ and no time or space for any other. Beginning Days of Maa Ghara:
A group of committed & dedicated women social worker started maaghara under the baner of sanjeevani to support distress women &girls of Odisha in 2004,under the leadership of smt Rutuparna mohanty
The initial phase was dedicated to direct field service: rescuing, rehabilitating the trafficking &sexual abused victim and giving them temporary shelter, food, healthcare, legal support and capacity building traing. The shelter becomes a transit home for them until they get legal socio-cultural and economic independent. The mothers and other women of the neighborhood communities of the victimized girls; get interested and involved in forming Community Vigilance Groups to get united, empowered, informed and protect their girls from being trafficked and prevent other forms of violence against women. All these work lead to rescued and rehabilitated near about 15,000 distressed women of all ages successfully, within last 5 years. More than one lakh community women get aware about there rights . Hundreds of unemployed venerable girls got security guard, computer, Masson training &after that employment .Victim restored to families became undeclared ambassadors to the communities for the cause. People started developing faith on Maa Ghara and its dedicated and sincere work. Women with different issues that violate their human rights, started register their cases with Maa Ghara.
The Learning experience: Working closely with the distressed girls, Maa Ghara mothers gathered different experiences altogether, in comparison to their experience in working with other issues.In second phase they focused on advocacy, policy influencing, public hearing, sensitizing eminent decision makers and serious citizens including members of the police, judiciary, the legal community, University teachers and students and above all legislators. No wonder, the sincere efforts bore magnificent results. The government force established a ‘woman-and-child’ desk in every police station, Odisha high court directed govt to formulate ‘slum resettlement policy , W& CD department given notification to establish sexual harassment complaint committees’ at all formal work places, and an ‘anti-human trafficking cell’ was set up. Several corrupt, callous officials and politicians had to step down due to inaction and apathy. The sole idea was to restore dignity of women who had been shamed for no fault of theirs.
The Maa Ghara Movement:The responsibilities of the mothers multiplied. They took the help of different stakeholders including the corporate, CRPF govt of India , US GOVT. State Home department, Municipal Corporations, Local Self Government bodies, Districts Administration and CBOs & NGOs. Civil Society Organizations from District, Block & Panchayat level, came forward to join the call of the time to protect the rights of women of their localities. They applied to Maa Ghara to open branches at various places. It became state wide People’s Movement to protect women human rights and stop violence against women in the society. The next most important phase was dedicated to pan-Odisha networking activities only because the previous phases were highly recognized by the public and covered widely by the media. Today women leaders from allover Odisha come forward to run helpline services, counseling and legal-help centers at in all the 30 districts of the state in the name of maa ghara. The world must know volunteers run the show with help from charity-minded friends, business people and compassionate citizens.
to build a society where every women & womanhood is respected, protected from violation of their human rights and create a peaceful co-existence of both the genders in harmony and tranquility with each other