Sahiyar,  An organisation by women and for women.

                                                     "A space for women to share

                                                        their joys and sorrows,

                                                        hopes and despair,

                                                        aspirations and experiences"

Annual report.

 

Annual report.

Sahiyar (Stree Sanghthan) Sahiyar means, ‘a woman’s friend’ in Gujarati

Sahiyar provides a space for women to

share their joys & sorrows hopes & despair,

aspirations & experiences

Our Team : Trupti Shah Deepali Ghelani Rita Choksi Suryakanta Shah Sadhana Patel Mubin KadriNandini Manjrekar Chhaya Patel Sunanda Tayde Prital Thakar Kamal Thakar Reshma Vora JohaanaLokhande Mamata sangelia Priya Sankpal Reena Jagtap Hetal Parmar Pushpa Maske Jagruti DomadiaBharat Patel and many more…

Address: G-3, Shivanjali flats, Near Navjeevan, Ajwa Road, Vadodara- 390019, Gujarat, India. Phone: 91-265- 2513482 Email: sahiyar@sahiyarstreesangthan.org,sahiyar@gmail.com

Registration No.: As Public Trust- F/452/Vadodara. Under Societies Act- Guj./739/Vadodara.

Year of Establishment: 1984

1. Violence against women a) Supporting women against violence and injustice. b) Campaign for implementation of Domestic Violence Act 2005 c) Campaign against Sexual Harassment and for the implementation of Vishakha Judgement -Patan Rape case -campaign in the M.S. University d) Campaign Against Declining Sex Ratio 2. Working with Adolescent girls a) Shibir b) Skill learning and Awareness group c) Scholarship for education 3. Training grass roots women leaders for Justice Peace and Communal Harmony. (This is our new initiative since 2007) 4. Manthan Youth For Change 5. Celebrating some special days a) Fortnight on 16 days of Activism Against Violence on Women 2008, 2009 b) International Women’s Day 2009. International Women’s Day 2010. 6. Making our representative responsible and use right to vote against all candidates. 1. Violence against women a) Supporting women against violence and injustice. Sahiyar (Stree Sanghthan) provides counselling, moral and emotional support, legal aid and/or other practical help to women who have to faced violence, sexual harassment, injustice and discrimination from family, at workplace, and in the society. During the years 2001 to 2008 454 women affected by violence have sought help from Sahiyar out of which in 373 cases a compromise has taken place either by the intervention of Sahiyar Activists or through the court and in 35 cases are still pending. During 2007-2009 totally 152 new cases had been registered and follow up in 35 cases of previous years was also under progress. Out of these 152 new cases 114 cases are about domestic violence, physical and mental torture by husband and in-laws. 2 cases for sexual harassment, 4 cases in regard to harassment from parental family and 32 cases on various other accounts have been received. b) Campaign for implementation of Domestic Violence Act 2005 Domestic Violence Act for the first time includes violence against women in all kinds of familial relationship and considers violence against women as violation of Human Rights. It is a civil law which gives responsibility to the government to create support structure to stop violence. Our campaign for effective implementation of this act include film screening and area meetings, distributing leaflets and a letter to the state government for effective implementation which was signed by more than 1500 people. We had organising dialogues with various stake holders like Protection officer, Police, Judges, Lawyers, government officials and other women’sorganisation. A seminar with the theme 'Violence free family is foundation to a violence free society' wasorganised on 6-1-2008 by Sahiyar celebrating one year of implementation of Domestic Violence Act-2005 in collaboration with Faculty of social work, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. The seminar was inaugurated by Shri R.A. Mehta (Retired Acting Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court) and ShriK.K. Bhatt (Principal District and Session Judge, Vadodara) presided over the seminar as honourable chief guest. c) Campaign against Sexual Harassment and for the implementation of Vishakha Judgement -Patan Rape case: Our right to a society free from sexual harassment and sexual exploitation: The shocking incident of sexual exploitation and gang rape of a Dalit girl by teachers in a PTC collage ofPatan generated spontaneous agitations all over Gujarat. Sahiyar joined hands with other women’sorganistaions and Human Rights organisations. We conducted public meetings, public demonstrations, signature campaign, distributed leaflets. Sahiyar not only conducted the activities for supporting the case of the girl but also intervene and lead a campaign to prevent such incidents in future. We demanded that to prevent such cases in educational institutions the first step should be to implement the land mark judgment by The Supreme Court of India 1997 in the case of Vishaka vs Government of Rajasthan. One of our supporters filed an application under Right To Information Act about implementation of Supreme Court Judgement by the state government. Our demands 1. A thorough inquiry in the case of repeated gang rape and sexual exploitation of girls in the P.T.C. Collage of Patan and immediate and stern steps against all involved. 2. Immediate steps should be taken against the principal and collage management who failed to take necessary actions on receiving the complaint. The investigation of their collusion with the accused and collusion of any other political leaders including the ex education minister or other ministers must be undertaken immediately and stern action should be taken against all those found guilty. 3. The government of Gujarat must immediately implement the Supreme Court guidelines in the case of “Vishakha VS. State of Rajasthan” and ensure that complaints committees against sexual harassment are established in each place of work and every educational institutions, i.e. Schools, collages, universities, Ashram Shalas, hostels etc. 4. As given in the guideline the complaint committee must be headed by a woman and at least one of the member should be from a reputed NGO who is familiar in dealing with the cases of Sexual Harassment. 5. The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda must immediately establish a complaints committee against sexual harassment as per the guide lines given in the Vishakha Judgement and by U. G. C.. 6. Committees should be established in all the faculties, institutions, projects, hostels run under university and should include representatives form female students, P.Hd. Students, permanent and temporary teaching and non teaching staff. 7. All the women employees, teachers and students should be made aware and informed about the functioning of such committee and the names, addresses and phone number of the members of such committee. limited Success A committee was formed in M.S. University after our campaign. The education department of the Government of Gujarat sent an order to all the schools to form committee against sexual harassment. Various departments of the government immediately formed committees to reply in the RTI application that they have such Committee The limitation is that the committee are not in accordance with the Vishakha Judgment. They have not included any third party member in such committee as pre the requirement of the guideline of the Supreme Court. Many of the committees are not effectively functional. Our campaign to make them effective is continuing. d) Campaign Against Declining Sex Ratio This was one of the major issues during our public programmes for 16 days of violence against women and International women’s day. IN which posters, demands, and plays were performed on the issue. Besides that following programme were organised during the year. 1)  An Awareness shibir wasorganised at Nirmal Samaj Kendra for students of Nursing where 30 students participated. They were sensitized about the situation, its adverse effects on women condition & society. Information was provided on PCPNDT act.     Students appreciated the effort and committed that when they become nurse they will play positive role for preventing the social disaster. 2) A Jagruti Garba was organised in slums of Gorwa area in  Vadodara where Jagruti Garba having element of Awareness on 'Declining sex ratio & condition of women were sung. Youths, women & men attended this Garba, A poster exhibition was also organised at this place which had posters showing girls moving ahead in life. this was followed by discussion on issue. 2. Working with Adolescent girls This is our ongoing programme which focuses on adolescent girls. Girls face various problems during this transitional period because of lack of knowledge about the changes occurring in their body and emotions. Social and Familial restrictions on girls and lack of space to talk about their dilemmas increase their problems. This is also a crucial period in their careers for their future development. There are three major components of our work with adolescent girls a) Shibir (group discussions) b) Skill learning and Awareness group c) Scholarship for education a) Shibir Some of the issues discussed in the Shibirs are The experience of girls during adolescence, including physical changes, menstruation and related issues. Restrictions from the family, and the resulting mental and emotional impact on them. The need for support to continue education The meaning of “Friendship” including friendships among boys and girls. The maintenance of individuality in any relationship, precautions to be taken in any relationships. Body image: impact of beauty contests, cosmetics industry on girls, Myth and reality about “beauty”, issues of health vs “beauty” etc During 2007-2009 we have reached to 1933 girls in 20 shibirs (group counselling sessions) b) Skill learning and Awareness group Creating spaces for girls to come and express their feeling, talk about their difficulties and also to make new friends, Sahiyar encourages more and more girls to come together and exchange their views ideas and creativity, these awareness groups also try to counsel girls to complete their education or to take up vocational training on various skills, like Mehendi and Beautician courses for which Sahiyar provides the necessary facilities. This awareness group also educates the girls on various on going social issues in the country. Baroda in the past year has become one of the most communally sensitive area, Sahiyar has been operating and working with women from sensitive areas since 1985 to promote communal harmony. As part of this effort, Sahiyar launched a program in April 2006 “Kaushaliya ane Samwadita”, with the support from United Way of Baroda. Under this programme neww as well as traditional skills like basic computer knowledge, Mehndi and Beauty parlour courses are imparted to women from Panigate, Kishanwadi, and Ektanagar areas. Collecting women from this area alsosymbolises bringing together women from two community, as part of the this programme many awareness sessions are held for the students who come to attend the classes. 179 girls learnt some skill and participated in awareness sessions during 2007-09. c) Scholarship for education During the group counselling sessions and meetings of Jagruti juth, we came across many young girls who wanted to continue studies but who had dropped due to financial reasons or family obligation. In this situation we meet the parents of the girls who wish to study and convince them to allow the girls to study. We inform them that the cost that will be incurred for the education will be borne by Sahiyar. For which we appeal to all our well wishers to contribute generously to support these girls. We send in the progress report of the girls to our well wishers who contribute to the cause, we also keep in touch with the girls to encourage them to study. The girls are encouraged to participate in all the activities that Sahiyar undertakes and they also join all the group discussions that are regularly held so that they are informed about the various issues that happen around them. This also helps in building their self confidence to deal with any situations that they come across. 68 girls were supported by our well wishers during 2007-09 . 3. Training grass roots women leaders for Justice Peace and Communal Harmony. (This is our new initiative since 2007) Sahiyar has been actively involved in issues related to rights of women from minority community and also involved in struggle against communal violence since 1985. During the year 2002,Gujarat including Vadodara, experienced unprecedented violence, principally targeted against Muslims. In fact the relentless violence was termed ‘genocide’ by several fact-finding reports. Sahiyar (StreeSanghathan) joined hands with many other progressive organisations and individuals to form a common forum called People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Shanti Abhiyan (Peace Campaign). The women in the Muslim community were bearing the major burden of the effects of the 2002 violence. They were facing problems from outside as well as from their own family members and community. With its sustained efforts to support people for resisting violence by organising area committees, organising protests for peace and justice, and work for relief and rehabilitation in relief camps and in areas and to represent their plight and problems to National Human Rights Commission, Election Commission, Peoples Tribunal, International Initiative for Justice etc., during the genocide in 2002, Sahiyar gained the respect and trust of local communities. It also enabled Sahiyar to continue its efforts to work on issues faced by Muslim women in various areas. One of the result of the crises situation was that several women came out for the first time and emerged as a community leader in their areas. As communal disturbances and other crises have become every day reality in these areas, women in these areas need to deal with various aspects of the state like police, justice system, various government offices- various departments of Municipality and Collector office. They also face issues of domestic violence and internal conflicts within community. They look for support from organisation like Sahiyar (Stree Sanghathan) andPUCL in such situation. As result of our awareness programmes, few women have emerged as community leaders in these areas and are able provide immediate intervention before out sideorganisations can reach to the spot. They have become role model for many other women and young girls in their areas and other such areas. Some of them have asked for support and training to deal with the day to day problems of access to various services from the state institutions as their rights as citizens. We had organised series of training for a group of potential leaders during 2007-2008 with the financial support form Yugantar. A group of about 20-25 women from Bawamanpura, Bawchawad,Ektanagar, J.P. Nagar, Kisanwadi, etc. are involved in this process. They are provided basic knowledge of laws related to women’s rights and rights of citizens and exposure visits to local police station, various government offices, Municipal Ward office, Courts and tribunals, Other organisation and their field area. The results were very encouraging. They have started intervening in the common issues faced by the entire community as well as women’s issues. Some of the interventions made by these women in their areas are making representation for civic amenities, intervention in the cases of domestic violence, starting saving groups in their areas, awareness campaign during elections etc. Many of them have began to gain respect and confidence of people in their areas. They have voiced a need to continue this training process for this group of women to reinforce their learning and providing support to them in the field to practically handle the issues. They also need support from few other women to form a core group of women activists in their respective areas. Thus similar training with a group of other 20-30 women wasorganised during 2009-10 Objectives of the programme was (1) To provide skills and exposure to various state institutions to deal with day to day problems of the local area and community. (2) To develop their understanding about larger forces affecting their lives as women and as a citizens. (3) To provide training to deal with these forces and make intervention to the process of social change. (4) To support grassroots women for developing their skills as community leaders in crises situation. (5) Creating a platform for communal harmony between women from different communities through common activities. 4. Manthan Youth For Change This is also a new initiative after 2007. While working with women in the community we realized that youth face several problems and there is no space where thy can share their issues. In absence of such space it is easy for them to get attracted toward right wing groups and ideas. We realized that we can not move forward in community work if youth are not involved. We initiated small group discussion and few activities with the youth. The idea is that over a period of time a vibrant youth group can be formed which can work autonomously from Sahiyar. It should be a group of youth and for youth. The issues taken up are gender justice, environmental awareness, and communal harmony. A separate space is hired for the youth centre, where they can come, read, get help in their studies, learn form each other and participate in various activities. Activities conducted A campaign for no to plastic, training for paper bag making A campaign to understand water contamination Poster exhibition prepared by Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti was displayed in various areas A three day workshop in which three major issues, gender justice, environment, communal harmony were discussed in participatory manner. And the group under took creative activities on these issues. Training for street play on above issues, which they will perform in the areas. Sessions were conducted by inviting resource person from Consumer awareness group and Community science centre 5. Celebrating some special days a) Fortnight on 16 days of Activism Against Violence on Women 2008 & 2009. Several meetings, film screening, etc. Were organised in areas such as BawamanPura, Bawchawad, Ektanagar, Kisanwadi etc. were organised during the fortnoight. 10th December 2007, Human Rights day was the culmination of our campaign a public demonstration was organised raising issues about How safe Gujarat is for women and girls? Three major issues were raised in our leaflet and banners were declining sex ratio, non implementation of Domestic Violence Act and increasing violence in family and society. We raised a pertinent question that if the guilty of 2002 who are responsible for heinous crimes like rape, murder and inhuman violence are moving around freely in society how can expect safety for women? We should not be complacent by comparing Gujarat with Bihar, U.P. but should compare to days Gujarat with our own past record. In 1961 When Gujarat was formed in 0 to 6 age group the number of girls per 100 boys was 955 and now according to 2001 census it is 878. It indicates the declining status of women in Gujarat. On 10th December 2008 we invited several organisations and schools to participate in the campaign with a slogan. “No to Violence”. We included range of issues from Declining sex ratio, Domestic violence, sexual violence, communal violence, violence by terrorist and violence by state. About 300 people participated in the public demonstration. Looking at the success of this programme we decided to continue this campaign for “Not to Violence of all kinds”, work on the same issues and involved more people for the coming International women’s day. 10th December 2009 Several well known organisations from Gujarat decided to have a common platform to have a sustained campaign against violence on women. Some of the organisations are, ANANDI, SWATI, Navsarjan, BSC, Mahila Adhikar Abhiyan,Utthan and Sahiyar (Stree Sanghthan). The collective effort was named as Mahila Adhikar Abhiyan. It has organized 8th December/09 as a day to protest the violation of women’s rights in Gujarat, through a public demonstration.  This demonstration took place at Town Hall (Ellis Bridge area, Ahmedabad) to expose the fallacy of “Swaranim Gujarat”.   From 11.30 am to 2.30 pm a panel of activists heard testimonials from victims and witnesses to violence against women.  The panel included MalikaSarabhai, Ami Yagnik and Gagan Sethi. A Public demonstration and press conference was alsoorganised. The programme was compared by Trupti Shah of Sahiyar. 50 women form Sahiyar went to participate in that stat level programme. One of the women supported by us also gave her testimony. It was decided that Mahila Adhikar Abhiyan will continue this campaign and also have Joint celebration of International women’s day at Ahmedabad. b) International Women’s Day 2009. It was beginning of the100th year since Clara Zetkin suggested celebrating the struggle of women workers for better working conditions as International women's Day. We have invited women’s groups, organisations, schools, collages trade unions, youth organisations, artists and citizens to contribute their expression on the 100 meter long banner to be displayed on7th and 8th of March. The theme was "No" to Violence for Justice, Equality and Peace. The broad list includes, Sex Determination and Sex Selective Abortions, Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence, Communal and Caste Violence, Violence by Terrorist and State Violence. It was a great success. 36 organisations from Vadodara joining this campaign to express the progressive spirit of Vadodara and adding their voice against all forms of violence. The 100 banners were displayed first on 7th and 8th March and than it was taken to various places programmes of various organisations, areas, Public places, schools, collages, during the year. They were displayed in more than 50 places. c) International Women’s Day 2010. Several Groups in Gujarat came to gather As Mahila Adhikar Abhiyan to celebrate International women’s day 2010. Sahiyar was part of the core group. A joint charter of demand was prepared after several meetings with grassroots women. 5000 women were gathered atAhmedabad on 8th of March. In Baroda we had programmes at community level. Like every year essay writing and group discussion was also organised for school children this year more than 140 students from 22 schools participated in the group discussion . Topics were - 1. Are women safe in SwarnimGujarat 2. Climate change : Impact on Environment and Human life 3. Increasing price rise. In addition to essay writing this year we invited schools to prepare plays on various issues. The scripts were selected and provided by us so that the right perspective comes through. The scripts were on issues of violence against women, communal harmony, declining sex ratio, domestic violence etc. Students form 9 school prepare about 12 plays and performed in their own school as well as in other schools and in a common programme organised by Sahiyar. About 100 students participated and at least 50 shows were organised at various places. As part of the common Campaign by Mahila Adhikar Abhiyan at stat level a street play on domestic violence was prepared with the help from Sarupben Druve and Hirenbhai of Darshanorganisation. The content of the play is based on a story form Ethiopia, "Song of Cike. It is an effective story of women’s non violent and collective resistance to violence. A training programme for this street play was organized at Baroda. Representatives from 9 organisations participated in this training and the play was performed in various districts of Gujarat by these teams. Sahiyar team performed about 9 shows of the play and also performed at the stat level meeting attended by 5000 women from all overGujarat. 6. Making our representative responsible and use right to vote against all candidates. (This was one of our major campaigns during these years. During the assembly election in 2008 and parliament election in 2009 an effective campaign to make candidates responsible was undertaken by Sahiyar with the slogan “We Fought for This Right, and We Must Use It” - I have just cut and paste form an interview given to a magazine.) It was very much evident throughout the elections: people were not very enthusiastic about voting. About 45% of people in Gujarat voted—at least half did not exercise their right to vote. Ordinary people, particularly marginalized groups, felt that there was hardly anything for them in these elections. This is true for most of India. The two major parties, Congress and BJP, have not been addressing issues directly related to peoples’ lives. Many people said it was an “issueless” election. For example, BJP was talking about recovering black money from Swiss banks. How would an ordinary person relate to this issue, when people need work, food? The parties were interested in our communities’ votes, but they were giving us mere slogans. What we want is not just slogans. We want a concrete program. How are you going to implement the promises you make to ordinary people? What kind of changes will they make in the legal system? But they’re not willing to give us concrete actions. So people felt, if we aren’t going to get basic things like safe drinking water, if our children are not getting a quality education, then what is the point in talking about politics? A People’s Manifesto During the election, we told our communities: the right to vote is very important. Women and ordinary people got this right through struggles that lasted centuries. We fought for this right; we must use it. But then people said, “What does it mean, this right to vote? The leaders forget us. Why should we vote?” We said: “The candidates should represent your interests in the parliament.” We prepared a kind of “peoples’ manifesto in consultation with grassroots women leaders.” What do people want? What do they want to ask the candidates? The manifesto had simple demands from people, like the right to work, safe drinking water and enough wages to sustain our families. Women said, “We want a violence-free society.” “We want government to take action on all those who are violating our right to live.” We made this manifesto and made copies, so that when any candidate approaches someone, one can ask these questions. The people who used it found that most of the candidates and their supporters were unwilling to answer those questions. The 49 (O) Clause Then we found out that we have the right to vote our discontent. We found out that there is a clause, under section 49 (O) of the ‘The conduct of Election Rules, 1961’ It says, if you do not want to cast your vote in favor of anyone, you can return an empty ballot. We approached the state election commissioner, saying that there are people who would like to exercise their right to vote, but do not want to choose any of the candidates. We want to use 49 (O) and return our ballot—to express our disapproval/rejection of all candidates and desire for better options. I feel that it will take some more time for people to become active and voice their concerns. Many people vote for “the lesser of two evils.” That is why we have started this campaign—don’t vote for the lesser of two evils, vote 49 (O). Voting for the lesser of two evils shouldn’t be the only choice. If 49 (O) is an option, then those who win will not be able to claim that they represent the majority of Gujarat. So if more and more people raise their voices, then true alternatives have the chance to emerge. We organized a delegation of women from various localities, who went to The District Election Commissioner, local media and local news channels and publicized our 49 (O) campaign. We also prepared leaflets. Many people, on the day of elections, went to vote and said they wanted 49 (O)—they didn’t want to vote for anyone, but they did want to exercise their right to vote. It was a way to participate in democracy. Some of the officers at the polling booths were not aware of this law; the requests were sometimes turned down. So we started a support center—many people called us, and we talked to the elections committees. Ultimately, about 400 people in Gujarat were able to use exercise their right to use 49 (O). Looking Forward We didn’t want people to just sit at home and not use their right to vote at all. We fought for this right, and we must use it! My hope is that people will hold more politicians accountable in the future. People have now learned to read between the lines. They do not have faith in politicians’ false promises. The problem is that they don’t see any viable options either. So if a viable option can be built and projected, then there is a bright future.

LET US JOIN HANDS TO CREATE A SOCIETY FREE OF ANY EXPLOITATION OPPRESSION, ATROCITY, INJUSTICE AND INEQUALITY - WHERE WOMEN HAVE EQUAL STATUS AND RECOGNITION AS HUMAN BEINGS.

WE SOLICIT YOUR ACTIVE SUPPORT IN OUR ACTIVITIES.

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