New Delhi | Agastyaa Gupta: One of the most coveted goals in any society is to achieve equality. Despite the fact that right to equality is enshrined in our constitution as a fundamental right, often in practical world, it seems like a pedantic notion. Discrimination or disparity on any grounds of caste, color, creed, religion, income, gender etc. besmirches the progress we have made as human beings. The evolution of any civilization remains incomplete in the absence of equality of every kind for every being.

It is no secret that absolute or perfect equality remains a theoretical construct yet civilized societies would be failing in their duties if they do not make the requisite effort towards attaining this Holy Grail. After all effort is the only thing we control.

The story of Shana Singh - a 12th standard student of Sri Ram School Gurgaon - is a tale of not just commendable intent and endeavor but also laudable result.

Her initiative, ‘Employ Her’, is aimed at empowering women who suffer from domestic abuse through employment so that they can be financially independent and take measures to better their situation. The shadow pandemic, which refers to the sharp spike in domestic violence during the lockdown, is as prevalent and dangerous as the Coronavirus. Domestic violence is an indoor crime that usually happens in an intimate relationship such as dating, marriage, cohabitation, or a familial relationship.

Globally, the majority of victims are women and it is the most unreported crime world over. This pandemic has been prevalent for centuries. It's non- reporting belies its existence. The COVID lockdowns caused a massive spike in domestic violence cases by 30% in India and led to the exposure of this shocking truth. In India, between 24th March and 1st April, a total of 257 complaints were received through email alone, out of which 69 complaints were related to domestic abuse. However, due to the stigma of shame and fear most cases go unreported. In addition to this, the lack of rehabilitation, support, and redress services only complicates the issue.

There are more shocking details. One in every three women suffers from some sort of domestic abuse in India, yet few report. Due to the spike in cases and hearing stories about affected people’s experiences led Shana to start, ‘Employ Her’. Employ Her focuses on training women and helping them find suitable employment, so that they earn an independent income and gain financial freedom, which empowers them in their homes and lives as well.

Due to the Covid pandemic, the focus has been on work that women can do out of their own homes - mainly stitching and sewing. They collaborated with several NGOs supporting women, and gathered materials such as donated fabric, thread, and sewing machines, as well as raised funds through donations, so that the women had the means and supplies to begin to earn a living through their sewing.

With the fund raised, NGOs were drawn to invest in training female workers or raising money to purchase capital to give to victims of domestic violence so that they had means to move out of their abusers' household, to live a safer, productive, fulfilling and happier life.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta