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Indian nuns launch new forum to curb violence against women

Office plans to monitor cases of rape, sexual harassment and violence of domestic workers

Published: June 30, 2017 04:40 AM GMT
Indian nuns launch new forum to curb violence against women

Women cheer as the Nyay Chaupal forum of justice was launched on June 28 in central Indian city of Bhopal to ensure their rights. (ucanews.com photo) 

A congregation of nuns in central India is helping domestic workers who face sexual abuse and other forms of violence access legal help, counseling and rehabilitation.   

Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, who is based in the Madhya Pradesh state inaugurated June 28 the Nyay Chaupal — forum of justice initiated by the congregation of Holy Spirit Sisters for domestic workers.

The office plans to monitor cases of rape, sexual harassment and violence of domestic workers and help them file police complaints, provide them legal help and well as counseling and rehabilitation. The new office is part of the congregation's Uday Social Development Society that already works with victims of abuse.

Holy Spirit Sister Sister Lizy Thomas, its secretary, told ucanews.com that they were compelled to launch this new office as nuns found many domestic helpers women "stressed and in need of help."

A 2015 survey by the Uday Social Development Society in two slums of Bhopal found that most domestic servants came to the city from villages in search of employment and had "no means to get legal remedies" against exploitation.

More than 60 percent of the 800 families that took part in the survey came from the Dalit or socially poor communities once considered untouchable, while 36 came from other economically weak communities.

Archbishop Cornelio lauded the nuns' effort and said the new office "will go a long way" in helping women challenge violence, fight exploitation and avail government facilities for their social security and education. "It will offer a brighter future to the younger generation," he said.

Uday Social Development Society started in 2003 to help the underprivileged fight for their human rights in the slums of Bhopal. It later began working in other districts of Madhya Pradesh and now works in 117 slums in five districts helping some 45,000 people.

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