GoPhil partner Shakti Shalini in India offers support and opportunities to survivors of gender and sexual violence, while also working with communities to prevent everyday violence and promote gender equality, individual choice, and dignity.
As you can imagine, this work has become even more crucial during the COVID-19 crisis and mandatory lockdown in India, during which many women have been trapped and isolated in unsafe and abusive situations. Shakti Shalini recently released an in-depth report, Domestic Violence During COVID-19 Lockdown in India, which helps bring this concerning situation to light.
When the crisis first hit, Shakti Shalini immediately launched a 24/7 helpline for survivors. They also ramped up their preventative efforts, compiling and publishing a list of organizations providing support to survivors across India, and working to strengthen national activist and social worker networks.
In time, this led to more survivors seeking support from their helpline. During the month of April 2020, Shakti responded to 77 helpline calls. In the month of May 2020, they responded to 115 calls. Now, the helpline calls they are receiving are nearly double what they were prior to the lockdown.
Although there were many new barriers and hurdles, the Shakti team remains as dedicated and determined as ever to help the growing number of women calling their helpline. In terms of interventions during the lockdown, Shakti provided psycho-social support and phone counseling, collaborated with law enforcement, and conducted limited rescue operations wherever possible.
On top of a growing workload, Shakti Shalini quickly provided emergency relief to 200 families identified as at-risk of starvation during the lockdown. Now, with support from the GoPhil Rapid Response Fund, Shakti Shalini is arranging to provide more emergency relief to reach another 150 families in dire need of food. These emergency food packages are robust and will feed a family for approximately 15-20 days, depending on the family size. The needs of communities are overwhelming at this time, so they have been working to carefully assess and identify those who are most vulnerable to the risk of starvation.