The Counselling Cell for Women in Distress was established in 2006. The Cell Team is made up of an experienced female Social Worker and two female field workers who are at the permanent call of women in need. The cell members work in close collaboration with the staff at Butibori Police Station and are available to help in cases of domestic violence referred to the Cell by the Police or when they are approached by aggrieved parties.
Domestic violence can appear in various forms, whether it is caused by the husband or the parents-in-law and the ones who suffer are the women and children. Most cases of domestic violence occur in connection with excessive consumption of alcohol by the men. Often a wife will complain against her husband for physical and mental torture if she does not make money available to feed his addiction. Other cases include post-marital demands for additional dowry payments or violence following the birth of girl-children, where the husband and his family were wanting a son and blame the wife.
With the counselling process the victim is initially interviewed to establish exactly what the problem is. Then subsequently in follow on sessions every person involved and even friends and neighbours are heard. The aim of the exercise is to find a solution to the problem and to reach a compromise without resorting to legal action, which can prove expensive.
As a non-government facility the Counselling Cell provides help that is an alternative to divorce which means a lot of trouble for a woman in Indian society. Counselling Cells also create awareness and atrocities do not remain hidden and unseen anymore. Thanks to daily house visits in different villages, the social and field workers are reaching out to a growing number of families. Each year the Counselling Cell deals with more than a 100 new cases which are referred to them, with the majority of cases being resolved by reaching a successful compromise.
Mrs. Sushma Dhande* is 26 years old. Together with her husband she lives in a village around 30 km south of Nagpur. The couple have been married for 5 years and have two young daughters. After the first daughter was born, Sushma’s husband and parents in law started to accuse and abuse her for bearing a girl instead of a boy. When the second daughter was born it became even worse and they started beating her as well as the two children.
In order to protect her and her daughters from the ongoing violence, Sushma's parents filed a complaint at the Butibori Police Station in May 2008. This case was referred to the Sangam's Counselling Cell, which initiated a process of dialogue between the couple. Finally, after around two months a compromise was found with the help of a mutual letter of agreement and Mrs. Dhande is finally feeling safe in her home. Like all the cases, it is still followed up by the Counselling Cell Team to ensure the long-term success of the counselling process.