Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It knows no social, economic or national boundaries. Worldwide, an estimated one in three women experiences physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime. Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence. Victims of violence can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death.
The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women states, “violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women” and “violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.”
When AWAG initiated work, violence against women was visible in various forms in public places and included acts of individual/gang-rape, eve-teasing, beating, insulting, derogation, vulgarity, sarcasm, sexual harassment and killing of women due to communal disharmony.
AWAG soon realized that this sort of violence against women was not an isolated issue but was very widespread and of a high magnitude. Subsequently, a study was conducted to gain an understanding about the reasons and spread of the unnatural deaths of women. The two main findings derived from the study were that in her maiden home a daughter is somebody else’s possession, and in her marital home she is an outsider.
AWAG thus formulated a new policy that fostered the elements of self-identity and self-respect of women, while also sensitizing various service-providers such as the police and the judiciary.
AWAG’s programmes offer awareness raising, psychosocial assistance, medical treatment and promote the right of all women and girls to live a life free of violence and abuse. The overall endeavour of AWAG is that women awaken and gain insights to the subtle and stark forms of violence be it in their homes, workplace or otherwise; and ultimately stand up to say “NO” to violence!
Spanning its journey over nearly four decades, AWAG has played a catalytic role in the entire process and continues to strive towards the emancipation and empowerment of deprived women and recall the words of its founder Secretary-Dr Ila Pathak…..“Silence Is Not A Virtue; Break The Silence Of Oppression.”