"My mother and cofounder of Make A Difference Foundation, Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal was on a television show where she met Asha Devi. She was quite taken by the kind of work Jyoti’s parents were doing with what little they had in trying to raise awareness and helping victims of sexual abuse deal with their trauma. She wanted to help them in some way. When we looked into it together, we found out that they did not have enough funds or resources to create a big impact. In their own quiet way, they just kept working at it, and we thought we could bolster their efforts by providing them with resources and funding. That’s how this initiative was born."
It’s been four years since India had a horrifying wakeup call that forced everyone to admit how vulnerable women really are on our streets, and sometimes within our own homes. According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, one crime is committed against women every three minutes, and this number is on the rise. Nirbhaya’s case brought to light thousands of victim stories and the need for a program that would help these victims combat the trauma.
It is time to drive action
Stringent laws clearly do not seem to control crimes like the merciless kidnap, rape, and murder of TCS employee in Chennai or the instance where an Infosys employee was hacked to death on a railway station platform and left there for two hours without help. An event as recent as the Bangalore mass molestation on New Year’s Eve calls for action to be taken on a much higher scale beginning with an awareness program that educates the public against sexual and violence.
A victim of sexual abuse does not only endure the nightmare of the incident but also the immense humiliation that goes along with the aftermath while dealing with the police, hospital, lawyers, media, family and other people.
“We have already partnered with a hospital and legal groups in Delhi. Jyoti’s parents will be managing the operations in the region. They have joined hands with us to set up this center that will ensure that no other woman suffers her fate.” – Kaizaad Kotwal
One stop resource center
The Nirbhaya Support Center would offer complete assistance to the victims of sexual abuse and violence by functioning as a single point of contact for accessing medical aid, legal aid, psycho-social counseling, police assistance, shelter facility (including food and clothing in case she has nowhere to go), rehab facility and more.
The Make A Difference Foundation intends to create and operate this shelter cum resource center within the next 5 years. It will be staffed with 4 full-time employees who will work solely towards creating awareness on how to deal with violence, self-defense, and also assist the victims in overcoming their trauma.
Bringing change at the grassroots
In addition to funding the center, the Foundation will also create partnerships with established organizations in the region to help with the in-house services. The plan includes liaising with the local police stations to create awareness about these issues and empower the police force in dealing with perpetrators in appropriate ways. They hope to streamline admissions at hospitals in various regions and fetch the right medical help to victims of violence. Furthermore, the Foundation intends to partner with legal groups to provide pro bono counseling for women who cannot afford a lawyer.
“So many people have supported us… We want to help people who have no one.” – Asha Rani
How can you help?
Your contribution will help create this support center and honor Nirbhaya’s memory by supporting several women across the country. Make A Difference Foundation will consistently work towards actively creating awareness to bring down the rate of crimes against women.
About Make A Difference Foundation:
Make a Difference Foundation was founded by Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal and Kaizaad Kotwal who brought to India, in 2003, the global theatrical phenomenon The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. The play continues to run to packed, standing-room-only audiences in India even today. That play combined with Mahabanoo and Kaizaad’s friendship with Ensler led them into taking on the challenge of creating awareness and raising funds towards ending the scourge of violence against women and girls. To this effect, they created THE MAKE-A-DIFFERENCE FOUNDATION which has been seminal in helping groups and individuals combatting violence against women and girls. The foundation uses the arts to spread awareness and also create solutions in this very fraught area of very complex problems. Equally, the foundation uses the arts to help raise funds to help end the violence that permeates every aspect of women’s lives across this country.