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Women live with the constant threat of violence, assault and physical danger to their lives. They are taught to be wary of strangers. But statistics show that in 72% of sexual assault cases, the perpetrator is somebody the victim knows. It is the known devil that organizations like Angala fight.

It is 2018. We have a mission to Mars, the rich have paid millions of dollars to travel to space but women are still unsafe on Earth. Across the world, women are struggling and fighting just for the privilege of staying alive. If you have been keeping up with the news, you must be aware of the case of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Ford. Closer home in India, former actress Tanushree Dutta has spoken about sexual harassment in Bollywood. Women are being harassed, stalked and assaulted by people they know or consider friends. Hiding under this shroud of familiarity is domestic violence. A darker, deeper side of marriage and the brutality of man, Indian women bear the brunt of frustrated husbands and partners.

The recent allegations against US Supreme Court Justice nominee teach us anybody can be a sexual assaulter. Photo by Mobilius for Mobili.

Nobody knows what goes on in a marriage.  The very privacy that guards our individual freedom can sometimes shackle us. Women are trapped by the pervasive mentality that their husbands know best. Suffering serious physical and emotional abuse, they battle alone. Parents are old or helpless or ignorant about the situation. These women often stay back in unhappy, troubled marriages because of children or societal pressure or simply because they have nowhere to go. Society also frowns upon single women or divorced women. The stigma of being alone weighs hard on their need to escape from their relationship. Vimochana was formed in 1979 in Bengaluru to protect women and children across different spheres. They provide legal and medical aid to abused women. If a woman approaches Vimochana, they talk to her, relatives, family members, neighbors and friends. Gathering of evidence, information and data allows them to do a fair assessment of what the situation really is.

Angala (Courtyard) is the crisis intervention arm of Vimochana. Through Angala, they offer abused and battered women shelter and food. These women have been through hell and back. Just imagine, the person you trust the most tries to beat you up or even kill you. And that is a daily occurrence. Burns, bruises, and beatings are something they face every day and get up the next day to go through the vicious cycle again. Angala provides them support, counseling, and medical treatment. They allow the abused women and victims to stand on their feet by getting jobs for them. If they have children and are unable to support them, the children are enlisted in an orphanage or care centre. 

Social media has allowed women to create a global community and support victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. A lot of victims reconcile with their husbands or partners. It is more common than you think.  Men apologize or justify their actions due to anger, stress or work pressure. Alcohol and drugs tend to exacerbate the problem. Families get involved and pressurize the victim or the woman to let go and remain together. For the sake of kids is a refrain used to guilt the mother. This feeble mentality of defending the criminal and allowing such behavior has hampered women for centuries. The women who choose to return are not forgotten by Angala. They make routine checks and visits to ensure that the pattern of abuse hasn’t resurfaced.

Women who need accommodation are also provided the essentials by Angala. They try to arrange shelter or financial assistance for any women in dire need of the same. On a regular basis, Angala handles 400 cases. It is disheartening to learn that the numbers are so high. But on the other hand, it is good to know that all these women are being helped. 

There is a vital need for institutions like Angala to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

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