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Nuns aid victims of domestic violence

Salesians help abused women rebuild their shattered lives

Women form the center learning make-up skills

Women form the center learning make-up skills
  • Saji Thomas, Nagpur
  • India
  • March 9, 2011
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Some Catholic nuns are helping victims of domestic violence find freedom and dignity in a western Indian state.

“Now I have a peaceful life,” says Sushila Abhiyankar, who left her abusive husband two years ago unable to withstand torture by him and his relatives.

The 37-year-old Hindu woman now works as a nursing assistant in a dispensary after a brief training course offered by a social service center managed by the Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate in Nagpur, Maharashtra state.

“I put up with humiliation and harassment for 17 years for the sake of my only son, but when he too began to beat me, it was too much for me,” she said.

She said she had no idea about her future when she walked out of her marriage. The Salesian nuns “helped me rebuild my shattered life,” she said.

Salesian Sister Clare Agnes, who co-ordinates a family counseling cell in Nagpur, said their Vishwodaya Multi-Purpose Social Service Society offers counseling and vocational training to help domestic violence victims.

The society conducts courses in nursing assistance,  tailoring, garment making and computer and typing. It also helps the trained find jobs, the nun said.

According to Sister Agnes, most victims of domestic violence come to their center through the police while a few, such as Abhiyankar, come through former beneficiaries.

The center gets around 100 victims a year, the nun said. Since most cases are “serious criminal” offences, the nuns refer them to the police for a follow-up.

The Salesian nuns started the society in 1989.

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