Towards Re-visioning Shelter Homes

The action-research study of Shelter Homes for Survivors of Violence in North Karnataka was undertaken by Visthar and Sangama. This study is part of a five state research initiated in October 2017, undertaken by eight organizations in Delhi (Jagori, Action India, and Nazariya), Assam and Meghalaya (North East Network), Tamil Nadu (Ekta), and Karnataka (Vimochana, Visthar and Sangama). The collaborative Action-research is based on the experiences of female survivors of violence who are currently living, have lived or are at the risk of living in shelter homes. The study aimed at re-imagining shelter homes from a feminist framework, redefining homelessness as a socio-political process and intervening in the representation of women living in shelter homes as agents who engage in the process of knowledge production and change.

Objectives of the study included:

  • Enriching the existing body of knowledge around shelter homes and the women that approach them.
  • Gathering evidence on the current state of shelter homes, identifying gaps and advocating for improvements.
  • Enhancing perspectives and capacities of the participating organizations, former and current shelter home residents and the staff at shelter homes.
  • Recording survivors’ understanding about their experiences of violence to transform their perceptions of victimization.
  • Enhancing survivors’ knowledge and agency with respect to their rights and entitlements.

The report, “Towards Re-visioning Shelter Homes” presents the experience of survivors of violence in short-stay homes in North Karnataka and perceptions of heads of the institutions and other stakeholders. Despite the challenges of not having written permission from the Director, Women and Child Welfare and an air of mistrust and suspicion on the part of some, we were able to access several shelter homes, listen to the survivors and collect relevant data.

The study hopefully will contribute towards re-visioning shelter homes through a process of critical appreciation of existing shelter homes, documentation of practices, and formation of networks among women’s groups and survivors. Awareness building among survivors on their rights and entitlements and advocacy at policy levels are important to bring about changes.

We thank AJWS for supporting the study and Amrita Nandy and Ananya Basu from the central research team for their expertise and guidance in facilitating the study. We also thank Geetha Nambisan (Jagori) for coordinating the process, Lam-lynti Chittara Neralu (LCN) and Vimochana for inviting us to be part of the network. Thanks also to Rebekah Eve Daniel for assisting with the literature study. Most importantly, our sincere gratitude to the residents and staff of shelter homes and all the friends and colleagues from community-based organizations in north Karnataka for their support and cooperation.

Mercy Kappen
(On behalf of the Research Team)

Lam-lynti Chittara Neralu (LCN)

A national network working towards improved and expanded shelter services for women. The name of the network means ‘to lead the way under the vista of stars’. The expression is derived from three different Indian languages. In Khasi, Lam-lynti means to lead the way. Chittara is a Telugu word that means star and Neralu in Kannada refers to shelter. This assortment of languages reflects regional diversities and collaborations within the network. The intent is to re-imagine shelters as open, positive spaces that offer care and ensure a rights-based support system for women and girls. The name captures the collective vision of the network.

The main objectives of Lam-lynti Chittara Neralu are to:

  • Review the conceptual underpinning of shelter homes for women and girls;
  • Produce evidence-based knowledge on the operational conditions of and services by shelter homes including challenges and best practices and
  • Demand accountability of the State via evidence-based advocacy and outreach for optimal functioning of women’s shelter homes.

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