“It takes a village to raise a child” Nirmal Initiative has adopted this proverb as a guiding principle towards mitigation of Sexual Violence. “It takes a village to raise children in a community free of Sexual Violence”. We take a village at a time, we work with the children at the school, engage on the issue informally with the families during home visits and organize creative awareness drive on the issue at a community level.
From our experience in the field, we have learned that sexual violence might be accompanied by other forms of violence (such as bullying, domestic abuse) and structural factors (such as caste). Our “integrated community-based approach” towards sexual violence works on developing Self-Esteem, Mutual Respect,Gender Sensibilities, and Social Safety Skills. To feel safe is not an individual’s responsibility but an individual’s right that we can safeguard through mutual community practice.
Mapping the community sensibilities, intervening with a simplified knowledge to address abuse, and ensuring the creation and sustenance of social accountability is what defines our tri-fold modus-operandi.
- To break the conversational gridlock around sexual violence and develop a healthy environment in which child sexual abuse can be disclosed and discussed without a tinge of fear and stigma.
- To build a community of informed parents, guardians, teachers, and children who can prevent, mitigate, identify and address child sexual abuse efficiently.
- To ensure the comprehensibility of the existing knowledge base (statistical, legal, social, psychological) by presenting it in a simplified form, acceptable to community sensibilities.
- To facilitate the smooth translation of Government policies through creating a network of accountability.
In January 2013, I was traveling from my hometown Mathura to New Delhi for work. I was working as a research coordinator in a one-year pilot study on ‘witch-hunting in India’ commissioned by Ministry of Women and Child Development, India. As I was waiting for the train at the Mathura Junction around 6 am, at a distance I noticed a homeless girl urinating on the platform. Soon she disappeared among the crowd waiting for the train. Once again she appeared, on the platform this time I saw her in a semi-squat position defecating on the track. In this uncomfortable position, some of the feces fell on the platform. This woman grabbed her pants to prevents them from falling and rushed to fetch her water-bottle. Initially, I thought she rushed for the water bottle to clean herself, but she used the water to clean the platform. Within fractions of a second, my train arrived and my uncle called me to hurry-up and board the train. I followed his voice. It is only after boarding the train it came to my mind, what if someone raped her last night, what is she has injuries which made it difficult for her to squat? If only this all could come to my mind five minutes earlier. It was not just the late reasoning, it was the fear of getting late for office, it was also somewhere about not giving others trouble that perhaps actually contributed to my late reasoning. After completing my project in July 2013 I returned to Vrindavan to assist the victims of Sexual Violence. During my work, I realized that no one deserves to go through such a humiliating ordeal in access to justice. 1 in 2 children ( a girl or a boy) experiences some form of sexual violence before their 18th birthday. (MWCD report 2007). Therefore, It is important to create a platform to connect with the larger community to address the issue. We all have the capacity and willingness to do good. All we need is informed encouragement and support to be a pillar of strength for fellow beings. I shared my experiences with my best friend Ankita and together we decided to found the Nirmal Initiative. We formally registered Nirmal Initiative as a trust in November 2015. – Shweta
MEET THE TEAM
Founder & Director
She is a women and child rights activist and a full-time research scholar in the Department of Philosophy at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Ankita is an engineer by profession, an IIT Mumbai graduate who loves to dance on classic and contemporary beats.
She is a scholar from Jawaharlal Nehru University who has explored the role of the school in the lives of sexually abused girls in her Research work. Her area of interest/expertise includes Sociology of childhood, education, gender, and violence. Being a graduate in Elementary Education equips her with the fundamental debates and nuances of child development, teaching aptitude and curriculum development. She views school and classroom as a crucial site to engage with conflicts/violence emanating across spaces at different levels. Engagement at the grassroots level to ensure a safe and healthy childhood is what has brought her to be a part of the Nirmal Initiative.
She is a Psychology Postgraduate and holds a PG diploma in counseling and family therapy. Her knowledge has been serving as a confidence factor for the organization to work with different communities, rural, urban and the semi-urban.