Selfhelp groups against violence in Indian villages

 

Annual celebration  of a SHG in a village close to  Mangalore
Annual celebration of a SHG in a village close to Mangalore

“The  violence against women and children  in the villages is high, up to 60, 70 % of all families are affected”, says a woman selfhelp (SHG) group leader when I meet her during an annual celebration in the surroundings of Mangalore. “Since the women are organized in the SHGs (a project set up by Karl Kuebel foundation in collaboration with Prajna Counselling) it’s becoming better – they are more self-confident and can help each other. If the situation is too critical our NGO contact helps us to find a place where battered women and children can live.”

The reasons for this excessive violence? Alcohol, poverty and no jobs, low education and most of all no solidarity and no self confidence. That’s where the SHGs help a lot.

The SHG women are dressed well and expect us. It’s a special day – their annual celebration day. They have prepared a dance and independent of their age and background they have gathered today under a nicely tent roof. Before we have lunch together there are some special small prices I hand over. For special results achieved by single women. Every woman comes in person in front and receives a personal congratulation and applaus  – an important act that a few years ago wouldn’t have been possible. The self confidence has grown enormously.
 It is good to see that they feel safer now and that their is team spirit and cocreative competition among them – they have started to take active part of their lives and surroundings.

When we leave we stop at two points in the city. Here some of the SHG women have set up their own business. The first woman works now together with her husband – the flower sales are good enough to deliver an outcome for the family. Both seem to be confident about the future.

At the second stop two women have realized their dream: a very small shop selling a few cosmetics, bindis, beauty articles. Proudly, they show us what they offer.

Sure, there is still a long way to go to get the violence and frustration rates down. The drugs issue and the poverty are too big to be solved within a few years. Missing non-violence solutions need to develop much more. But there is some hope, there are a few examples where women have got a chance to change traditional roles and societal respect for women and where they could help not just themselves but their families, too.

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