I got an opportunity to visit Mumbai for two days to connect with MAVA and CEHAT staff and see the impact that is made every day. Meeting MAVA and CEHAT staff was very meaningful and productive. I saw the work on the ground and experienced the passion and commitment of the staff. Seeing two organizations working on GBV – one with direct services –hospital crisis based program and another with changing attitudes of the community through youth mentors – a college campus sensitizing and mentoring program in colleges of Mumbai helped me understand the relevance and need of both these organizations programs to tackle GBV.
Day 1 started with a meeting with about ten MAVA’s youth mentors, TISS interns, program coordinator and founder Harish Sadani. The meeting was organized at a local Tissian’s house and the discussion centered around how each of the mentors felt motivated to join this group and become mentors and be role models for their peers. A couple of girls in the group felt comfortable as part of this group and did not feel they were different from the boys. The group talked about the planning for USKI Ghutan- the street play on sexual harassment and discussed new avenues to showcase the plays. The students seemed enthusiastic in finding ways to create awareness and knowing their role and voice. The students said they all personally empowered by their Sir Harish Sadani. The common theme of the meeting was that MAVA was a platform and had given them a voice to explore their journey against oppression and injustice. The deep bond between the students was clearly visible in their lively discussion and singing songs and reading a poem.
The second visit was to see India’s first hospital based crisis department at Bandra Bhabha hospital. Dilaasa provides pychosocial support to women facing domestic violence and training health care providers to respond sensitively to women facing domestic violence. This program comprises of a senior researcher, a full time interventionist and a full time research assistant. I met Aarthi from CEHAT and other staff Chitra and Laxmi and gathered insight into the operations of these direct services, the numbers of clients served, the approach behind this work and the all the horrifying cases that are dealt with in such a professional and sensitive manner. I learned the history of CEHAT, the replication work of Dilaasa in the peripheral hospitals and the challenges faced by staff in working with the criminal justice system and laws. I was happy to learn that the replication of this model is complete at the peripheral hospitals with support from DAWN.