An impact that needs to both be acknowledged and addressed in disaster management and response strategies is the vulnerability to violence among non-cis-het male communities. With quarantines and social distancing in place, more and more women and non-cis-het individuals are forced to stay in spaces, among and with family members who maybe physically, psychologically, sexually, or emotionally abusive. This means that more women are living inside households where they are forced not only to see their perpetrators every day, but also to face violence at their hands, to be traumatized and re-traumatized, and in several cases, to provide for / care for / support their perpetrators through the discharge of domestic responsibilities.
In these times, given that we're inhabiting proximate and confined spaces, seeking help while facing violence is not easy. it is inherently complicated – and doubly so in situations of this sort. Individuals who have not come out to their families may have to bear the brunt of adverse impacts of having to conform to difficult cultural and social norms, and even handle dysphoria without the support they need to do so. BUT locking down does not mean that support is also shut down. There are shelters, there are active support helplines, and most importantly, there are supporters around you.
A few years ago, with World Pulse's support, I coded and created Saahas. Saahas comprises a directory of support across 196 countries, a database of guidance notes on understanding gender-based violence and ways to respond to them. The directory of support comprises over 40000 organizations across 196 countries offering medical, legal, education / employment, resources (food, shelter, clothing, emergency support), consular and refugee-specific support, police and ambulance services for survivors of gender-based violence and child support service. Survivors who have faced violence either don’t know where to go for help, or don’t have resources to find out where to go for help. Sometimes, their situation prevents them from finding help, and that can be extremely dangerous to their safety. The name Saahas, in Hindi, translates to mean “Courage.” The app recognizes that a survivor’s choice to stand up to violence and a bystander’s choice to intervene in a case of violence is an act of courage.
Today, Saahas has expanded to include much more as support for survivors: it is a mobile app, a web app, a Facebook chatbot, and a Community Space. If you are a supporter and want to stand by survivors, it also has a set of guiding principles for you to adhere to. I truly hope this supports survivors in need, and encourages you, too, to catalyze access to support for survivors around you.
Engage with the chatbot version on Facebook.
Join the Saahas Telegram channel here.
Read the Saahas Principles here.
Spend time in the Saahas Community Space here.