SNEHA’s Program on Prevention of Violence against Women and Children aims to develop high‐impact strategies for primary prevention, ensure survivors’ access to protection and justice, empower women to claim their rights, mobilise communities around ‘zero tolerance for violence,’ and respond to the needs and rights of excluded and neglected groups. The program prioritises enhanced co-ordination of the state response to crimes against women through a convergence approach that works with government and public systems to reinforce their roles in assuring basic social, civil and economic security.
The ultimate goal of prevention is to stop something from ever happening. Violence against women and children is, however, a ‘wicked’ problem. It cuts across class, caste, culture and geographical boundaries and its determinants are both multilevel and intersectional. This means that it is imperative that we act at all levels and with an understanding of the intersectionality. Through multiple research initiatives, our program has progressed towards the understanding of the inherent and deep-rooted factors influencing gender-based violence. Women are put at risk through a complex interplay of factors – individual, relationship, community, institutional, and societal – and the intersectionality of poverty, religion, caste, gender, sexuality and disability.
Using a socio-ecologic model as a framework for action at different levels to prevent violence,1 from the individual to the home to the community to society, we tackle the interplay between levels and intersectional factors through primary, secondary and tertiary prevention strategies. Primary prevention activities are carried out through campaigns and group education with women’s and men’s groups, leading to individual voluntarism to identify, respond to and refer cases of violence against women and children. Secondary prevention is offered through delivery of comprehensive services that provide counselling, crisis intervention and coordination with public health facilities, the police & legal aid, home visits to engage perpetrators and other family members supporting abuse, and mental health counselling to minimise the impact of violence. Tertiary interventions include extended counselling and mental health interventions such as individual counselling and psycho-education, role education with perpetrators, couple and family counselling, and legal intervention for survivors with the aim of empowering them to make their own decisions about their situation. We have realized that this approach is more likely than any single intervention to sustain prevention efforts over time.
The webinar focused on understanding a range of interventions to be carried out with multiple stakeholders to enable them to recognise gender-based violence as a serious public health concern, and understand their role in addressing it by providing a coordinated response.