“Even my mother doesn’t know what kind of work I actually do!” says Dr.Prasanna Gettu. She is not a RAW agent but a criminologist who is the CEO of Chennai-based NGO PCVC, which is associated with the noble cause of rescuing and healing wounds of domestic violence victims. People accuse her of breaking marriages and families. But she stands tall like a tower- for her work is worship. No matter who says what!
The International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (PCVC) kick-started in 2001. Prasanna recalls that before PCVC was born, there were only 4 open shelter homes for distressed women. However she says, “If you ask a middle class or upper class women to go and stay in an open shelter they’d rather be in the abusive situation than go to an open shelter,” Reflecting upon the pity state, two founders went to the U.S for training, came back and started PCVC.
PCVC aims to rebuild lives of victims with a more solution-oriented approach. Women seeking help receive crisis counseling and is given the space to vent her emotions in a more conducive environment. After which, all options available are given to her whether it is leaving her home, staying back or taking the legal course of action. If a victim has no assistance then PCVC provides for free legal advocacy.
Is there any correlation between educational qualification and committing crimes like domestic violence?
No says Prasanna. She justifies-
“When we talk about domestic violence it is all about the way we are brought up and it’s more about mindset. It depends upon your attitude, beliefs and practices that lead to violence,”
Domestic violence is a behavioral issue, not a psychological issue. It has no barriers- whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated. Anyone can be an unfortunate victim and anyone can be a potential abuser.
How to identify an abuser?
Every girl dreams of marrying her Prince Charming. But are you marrying an abusive one? Violence in a relationship stems from two things-power and control. Dr.Prasanna has an advice to give- stay alert, with eyes open not blinded in love. She says-
“Red flags are there in every sentence. But the problem is, that are the girls educated enough to understand it?”
She cites some examples where the man knows his love really wants to do something but he imposes his will and curtails her freedom.
- The boy resorts to emotional blackmail- “If you really love me you wouldn’t have worn that dress/ done that.”
- “I don’t like that friend of yours. Why can’t you stop talking to her?”
- When you hang out with your family, he tries to pull you aside and says- “No. I want to talk to you so stay back with me.”
It irks Prasanna how culture introduces misconceptions, “We bring up girls in such a way that they do not realize it falls under violence,” She continues to add-
“Something that you don’t consent to is unacceptable! We are not taught that,”
Sexual Harassment at Workplace
Women face hurdles at workplace too- threat of security tops the list of concerns. Subtle forms of abuse are the most dangerous. It is very important for working women to know the existence of legal measures which they can resort to. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is one such Act which empowers working women. Prasanna says, “As per the act it is the responsibility and duty of the employer to give you a safe and healthy work environment.” She further adds, “You are there because you want to work comfortably. You have the rights to approach and tell them (HR or Internal Complaint Committee) that something makes you feel uncomfortable,”
Fault in our upbringing
Let’s face it- every woman is susceptible to some form of violence. Even well educated women are being abused because the tolerance level is much higher. Prasanna vehemently opposes the way daughters are brought up –
“We are taught to be more forgiving, more nurturing and giving up rather than standing up.”
Our Social Call
It all starts from the roots. A mother should teach her son how to respect women as a human not an object. At the same time, the problem is that many Indian parents raise their daughters as a future obedient wife and a cultured daughter-in-law. Instead every daughter should be raised like a tigresses; majestic yet fierce.