Project AWAJ, A One Stop Solution to Address Domestic Abuse
- Muskan Khandelwal
- Published on 6 Nov 2023, 4:00 pm IST
- 3 minutes read
- IAS officer Abhilash Baranwal started Project AWAJ in East Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya to provide comprehensive assistance to women in distress
- 108 women have reached out to the project’s ‘one stop centres’ for help and 21 men underwent counselling
- The project uses street plays to depict various forms of abuse, enlightening rural people about the significance of recognizing and reporting such maltreatment
With the aim to empower women and break the barriers that prevent them from seeking justice against domestic abuse, IAS officer Abhilash Barnawal, Deputy Commissioner of East Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya, has launched Project AWAJ. The project centres around the establishment of One Stop Centres in rural areas, providing comprehensive assistance to women in need.
Speaking to Indian Masterminds, Mr. Baranwal shared about this initiative in detail.
ONE STOP CENTRE
The One Stop Centre, which was conceived in response to the Nirbhaya incident, offers a wide array of services under one roof, including police assistance, legal aid, paramedical support, and in-house counselling. Moreover, these centres act as temporary shelters for destitute women, ensuring their safety and security. Importantly, the initiative, Project AWAJ, aims to dispel common fears that deter women from seeking help, such as concerns about family disruption, social stigma, and the complexity of legal procedures.
“Under Project AWAJ, funds have been allocated to these One Stop Centres to conduct awareness programs in villages across the region,” Mr. Baranwal informed. The approach involves using street plays to depict various forms of abuse, enlightening rural women about the significance of recognizing and reporting such maltreatment. Through case studies presented in a practical context, the initiative educates women on successful instances where others have sought assistance from One Stop Centres and found resolutions without enduring the complexities of legal processes.
Crucially, the awareness programs employ a feedback mechanism to ensure comprehension. Assessment forms are distributed to participants, allowing organizers to gauge the effectiveness of the sessions. The officer further informed that this feedback loop enables Project AWAJ to tailor its approach and revisit villages if necessary, thereby ensuring that the message resonates with the women in these communities.
Project AWAJ has not only increased awareness but has also inspired active participation. Remarkably, villagers themselves are now inviting One Stop Centre representatives to conduct awareness activities, showcasing the project’s impact. “Additionally, men have started engaging in these discussions, promoting a more inclusive dialogue on domestic abuse,” ADC Jonathan Shylla shared with Indian Masterminds.
The officer further informed that after the initiative, 108 women have reached out to one stop centres. Not only women, but 21 male members also underwent counselling.
To enhance accessibility, the initiative has appointed nodal persons within the audience, creating a network of support within the communities. Furthermore, every woman is equipped with the helpline number of the One Stop Centre, as well as the personal mobile number of the centre manager, ensuring immediate access to assistance when needed.
Mr. Baranwal further stated that the results of Project AWAJ are already evident, with a significant rise in the number of complaints registered since its launch. Through monthly reviews, the project team meticulously examines each case, tracking the help sought and the status of resolution efforts.
Ms. B. Chadong who is the Centre Manager at One Stop Centres informed that, “before this initiative, we used to receive 1-2 cases per month, but now we receive up to 9-10 cases per month”.
Out of the 192 villages, 69 villages have been covered till now. The initiative is making substantial strides toward creating a safer environment for women, fostering a sense of security and empowerment that is invaluable in these rural communities.
Project AWAJ is an example to the power of awareness, education, and community engagement in bringing about positive change. Under the visionary leadership of IAS officer Abhilash Barnawal, this initiative has become a source of hope, illuminating the path towards a more just and equal society in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills.
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