Together we can help families live safe, healthy lives.
Our PeaceMaker Program trains local women to counsel and empower other women, men and communities to protect their futures and break the cycle of abuse through education, awareness and challenging deeply entrenched social attitudes.
It also provides support for women to leave abusive situations.
Our Safe Village Program provides grassroots training in high-risk villages about warning signs of human trafficking, empowering ‘guardian girls’ and ‘informed mothers’ to become agents of change and encouraging men and boys to protect women and girls in their community. It is tackling issues of trafficking, and preventing exploitation of children.
were educated in trafficking and gender-based violence prevention
Escaping to a life of dignity
Content warning: this story discusses gender-based violence which some readers may find challenging.
As soon as Reshmi* finished her teaching studies, her parents arranged for her to be married. Dhruv* was from a respected family and had a government job and Reshmi was happy to get married. However, only weeks into their marriage, Dhruv became abusive, subjecting her to severe sexual and physical abuse. Dhruv’s threats and abuse left Reshmi isolated and so she suffered in silence; afraid to reach out to her parents and not knowing where else to turn. While Dhruv ‘allowed’ her to work as a teacher, it was on the condition that her salary be handed over to him.
Reshmi had two children and as they grew up, she did her best to protect them and hide the abuse, but they began to ask about her injuries. Her son and daughter encouraged Reshmi to get help, but for women like Reshmi, there are so many barriers. Women in Reshmi’s community are often blamed for their husband’s abuse, and experience significant social stigmatisation if they end the marriage. Furthermore, years of being in an abusive relationship had worn down Reshmi’s self-esteem.
Her brother contacted Opportunity’s local partner’s domestic violence helpline on her behalf and the counsellors encouraged Reshmi to attend counselling in person.
After six months, and despite the many challenges she faced, Reshmi found the courage to seek counselling. Trained counsellors explained her rights, what constitutes domestic violence, and how her husband’s abuse was also harming her children. With the counsellors’ support and armed with knowledge of her rights, Reshmi decided to leave Dhruv and move in with her mother. Despite immense pressure, she wasn’t swayed by relatives to stay with Dhruv.
Reshmi’s son and daughter also supported her in regaining her freedom. With the help of our local partner’s legal team, Reshmi successfully filed a case of domestic violence with the police, which gave her legal protection and enabled her to permanently end the relationship. Now 56, Reshmi is living a life of dignity, free from violence. She is determined to help other women to escape domestic violence, and to provide a good life for her children.
*names changed for privacy
This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).