WAR’s Survivors Support team makes the first contact with survivors and their families after a case comes to WAR’s notice through the media, reports by other NGOs, State’s departments or through word of mouth reference. Subsequently, WAR and its services are introduced to survivors and their families at their doorsteps.
Through these home visits, WAR offers basic legal and psychological counseling to both survivors and their families and discusses legal options but the right to decide on all issues remains the survivor’s prerogative.
Need assessment begins with the first visit; temporary crisis intervention is extended even in cases where there may be no desire to begin legal proceedings. All survivors are, however, advised to get a medico-legal examination done in case those who do not want to prosecute at that time decide to do so at a later stage. At first contact, survivors and families are also invited to visit the WAR office to avail of services, including legal aid and counseling sessions offered completely free of cost. Travelling costs to and from the office are also reimbursed with a view to minimize economic burden for those seeking assistance.
Legal Aid-Access to Justice
WAR provides legal support to women and child survivors of rape, gang rape, incest and all other forms of sexual violence. This program offers legal counseling and representation to survivors by assisting prosecution in court. Other support offered before a case reaches the courtroom include assistance in registering the case with law enforcement authorities, actively liaising with public prosecutors, witness preparation, taking survivors for medico-legal examinations and building up pressure for the arrest of the accused.
WAR takes up 15 new cases of sexual violence every year for prosecution. Each case continues for 3 to 4 years. In any given year WAR has 30 to 40 on-going cases in various stages of prosecution in the courts.
Psychotherapeutic counseling is extended to all survivors and their family members free of charge. Family counseling is offered with a view to enhance coping mechanisms and assist quick recovery and psychological healing. It observes and promotes principles of acceptance and support for survivor among the family members, finding that blame for the assault is often assigned to the survivor by her immediate social connections/relationships which causes long-lasting psychological damage to their general well-being.
Awareness, Capacity-building & Advocacy
Awareness-raising programs on the issue of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) are conducted in communities and educational institutions. While working with students, teachers, community members, police and town officials, WAR’s awareness-raising program is geared towards promoting dialogue on prevention, encouraging community participation towards developing and implementing grass-roots support and advocacy systems, removing myths around sexual violence and building an deeper understanding violence against women and its causes. Teachers are trained in identifying early signs of abuse and providing appropriate response to abuse cases that may come to their notice.
WAR’s advocacy activities are more focused on specific issues or problems that may either be time-sensitive or long-standing. Consultative/focus group meetings, training and sensitization workshops with stakeholders including police, media, legal fatuity & civil society groups, and advocacy seminars constitute a substantial part of this component.
The other major area is development and dissemination of regular material including bi-annual Factsheets, a bi-annual Newsletter & Annual Reports, as well as guidance material to assist survivors and support organizations.
WAR undertakes socially relevant research on the social, legal and medical aspects of sexual violence, with specific recommendations that WAR is striving to get implemented. Te results of all WAR researches are published and available to all organizations and government agencies.