Name: Anita Gari
Home: Ranchi, Jharkhand
Changelooms With.in Project: Working to empower tribal women who have been victims of domestic violence
In the tribal area where Anita lives it is estimated that 80-85% of women experience domestic violence. With such high rates, women have come to expect this abuse, accepting it as a normal part of married life. But not Anita.
Anita was married for 5 years. During this time she experienced domestic violence at the hands of her husband who also had an affair. So she made the brave decision to speak out.
As a woman, she had to ask for permission from the village elders to separate from her husband. “Even though he was at fault, I had to ask for permission,” she said. “Their view was that it was my fault – if I had been a good wife, my husband wouldn’t have wandered off.”
Despite the lack of support from the elders, Anita is now a single Mum. She and her 7 year old daughter still live in the house, without her husband, but they could be evicted at any time: “As a woman, I have no legal rights to my house.”
Anita’s passion to address violence against women stems from both her own experience, and a feeling of being responsible for the women in her community. This has led her to become one of the leaders of Jharkhandhis Adivasi Women Association (JAWA) – an organisation that encourages tribal women’s empowerment and raises awareness about the Domestic Violence Act.
Anita describes herself as fearless, self-sufficient and confident and it is these qualities that she is hoping to pass on to other women. “I work with women who are victims of domestic violence,” she says. “Through training, I want to enhance their decision making skills so that they can overcome their fears and become more confident.”
The project has been running since 2008 but, as part of Changelooms With.in, Anita is planning to scale up her work. “Over the next year I want to expand our work to 3 more districts. I want to help more women to come to their own self-realisation, without men telling them.”
Watch this space to find out how Anita’s journey on the Changelooms With.in programme develops as we visit her project and follow up with her over 2015.