Women and children constitute nearly 80% of our clientele. They are often traumatized by past experiences of sexual violence and conflict. Their struggle is compounded by language barriers, a lack of awareness about their rights and uncertainty about their legal status. In recent years, there have been several reports of women and children facing sexual violence, exploitation and even being forced to engage in survival sex by their own family members. As a result, we have come to see that cases involving women and children cannot be treated as routine asylum claims. In 2016, we propose to formally launch this Initiative to provide exclusive support and enhanced assistance to women and children as they recover from conflict and adjust to life in India. Ara is currently in the process of raising funds to kick-start this Initiative.
On February 11, 2016, Ara organized a panel discussion titled "Conflicts are not Gender Neutral: How to Protect and Empower Women and Girls", in collaboration with The AMan Trust and with support from the Embassy of Switzerland (https://www.facebook.com/events/536922363150799/). The panelists included:
(a) Ms. Patricia Barandun, Deputy Representative, UN Women India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan & Maldives;
(b) Ms. Cristina Falconi, Country Representative, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Belgium;
(c) Ms. Yasuko Shimizu, Deputy Chief of Mission, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, India;
(d) Ms. Urvashi Butalia, Founder and CEO, Zubaan Books.