What is Chayn’s plan for helping women experiencing from domestic violence?
Since the beginning of Chayn, we have been deeply motivated to empower women who have suffered because of domestic violence, be it abuse at the hands of a woman’s family, in-laws or husband. 1 in 3 women worldwide face domestic violence today and these figure might still be a gross under-estimate due to the hidden nature of domestic abuse. For instance, in the UK, on average, there will have been 35 assaults before the police are called (Jaffe 1982). In Pakistan, like many other countries, help remains sparse and up to 80% of the women can face domestic violence in their lifetime. Women are at greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner ( Lees, 2000).
To help women move on from the point of identifying they have to leave to how they can truly escape this situation in the short term and long term. We’ve set a target to become interventionist in 20 cases and actively assist women in escaping domestic abuse by (1) helping create an escape plan, (2) build their cases for legal reasons, (3) advise them on what long-term options are available to them, (4) provide emotional and financial support where possible and (5) help women build a long-term settlement plan. While we are not professionals with decades of experience in law, security and human rights, we’re passionate about helping these women using the power of internet, connections, online resources and personal experience. We make it quite clear to the women that we cannot take guarantee of the result of the actions they take because we simply don’t know. These circumstances are often so complex that it is impossible to predict what will happen but we try our best to map each possible outcome so we can account for it by making contingency plans. So far, we have spent hundreds of hours working on 10 active cases. Not every volunteer in Chayn works on domestic violence cases but we have a small sub-team that is extremely active, responsive and empathetic. Once we have met the 20 case target, we will suspend working on cases for a month to regroup and think strategically on how Chayn can leverage its resources, volunteers to help a larger number of women. On average, it takes about 120 hours of Chayn time to get a woman out of her house to a shelter. That’s quite a dear cost in terms of impact possible with a sub-team of 4 people but if you put that into the context of how many hours the woman has suffered in her circumstances, it seems petty to event talk about this. Add the number of hours lost if Chayn doesn’t intervene that might be spent by the women in poor emotional, physical and financial conditions – and the opportunity cost of not doing something shoots.
In my opinion, the short term concerns women have are to do with how they can escape safely, where will they go, what will they do about money and who will help them to do this. It is not uncommon to be crippled by feat and because of the psychological impact of the trauma, depression and anxiety can make this worse. In the long term, it is about resettlement, becoming financially self-sufficient For this, I believe, it will extremely beneficial for everyone (women and their well-wishers) if Chayn creates a bunch of resources that can be used by them and by us.
These are the tools and resources we want to build in the December/January sprint:
- For Women, Chayn volunteers and everyone else:
- How to stay safe online: This will give advice to women about how to stay safe online and digitally. In our experience, many women get caught online. Just a few precautions can make the difference between life and death.
- How to stay safe offline: This will give advice on how to avoid detection in person for the woman, any children or any other person helping her.
- Risk assessment: How dangerous is your situation? What kind of things should you look out for?
- How to build a case if you are in an abusive relationship: This how-to guide will help the reader understand the kinds of evidence that can be collected, and how it should be presented to a lawyer/police to prove you are in an abusive relationship. This will help those women who are thinking of leaving their partners so they don’t leave without collecting any evidence they can safely. Once they leave the relationship, they can continue using the guide to build a case and then present it to a lawyer. This will be applicable to most countries in the world. In many countries, legal aid is not provided for fighting domestic violence cases which is why this is perhaps the most important document Chayn can make.
- Escape plan template: Helps the reader map risk for a particular case and make a practical and safe plan. This is one of the two most vulnerable points in a woman’s life where her life is most at risk so providing a guide to help logically plan an ideal escape route and then back-up options can (we predict) significantly reduce the risk, anxiety associate with escape and increase success rate.
- Mostly for Chayn volunteers but could be useful for anyone wanting to do something similar:
- How to conduct first call with the woman: This document will have questions that should be asked and what to advise the woman about being safe in the present.
- Case details template: A template to help the Chayn volunteer record details of the case and how to anonymize it.
- Liability Waiver: To be given to the woman so that they understand that Chayn cannot take responsibility for any advice given or consequences of actions but that all will be done with the best of intentions from well-meaning people.
- Report template: Once an escape has been executed or the case has been concluded, a report must be filled out to see the outcome of the case, what worked, what didn’t work and how Chayn can improve.
- Chayn Empowerment Grant guideline: Helps determine in what case can Chayn give an escape or empowerment grant.
I set the grounds of Chayn on the basis of being an open-source portal for information and ideas, and so everything we do must have the same values of co-creation and sharing entrenched in it. The Domestic violence resources will be available under a CC by ShareAlike license which means the resources will be let others remix, tweak, and build upon even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit Chayn and license their new creations under the identical terms. The reason we are choosing this is because it ensures the materials taken from Chayn shall always be free for women, their well-wishers and organisations to use even if it has been incorporated into someone else’s work. Wikipedia is similarly licensed.
NEXT STEPS: We need help.
Let me give you a summary of what’s coming up and how you may be able to help:
December – mid January:
First drafts of all of theses workbooks and resources are completed.
Help needed: Research, Writers and Experts (lawyers/police professionals)
AND any one who would like to volunteer to help us work on the cases. The time commitment is up to 4 hours/week.
Mid January – End January:
Proof-reading and sanity checks.
Help needed: Editors, Proof-readers and Graphic Designer.
Publishing the resources on Chayn.co website
Help needed: Spreading the word about these and linking us up to any organisation who can make use of these. The more people who look at these documents and use them – the more impact our work can make on women going through the most difficult and dangerous of times!
I hope this post sheds some light on the vision for Chayn in the next few months. Thank you to everyone who has helped so far on managing the workload of working on these cases and providing support, where possible. We couldn’t do it without you. I’m so passionate about this because already I can see the impact it is having on how we work within the CHAYN DV team and how useful it for women that having a first iteration out in public where people can contribute and make it better – makes the prospect of doing all of this all the more powerful.
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