Aks’s vision is simple: “A gender-equal society, where violence is not the norm, and everyone can lead a life free of abuse.” To most this may appear as a simple truth, a harmless statement designed to embrace support from a broad section of people. However, this truth is not as universal as we would like to believe: a look at a sampling of newspaper headlines would give the lie to it.
But merely bemoaning the fact that one-half of the population continues to be subjugated in more ways than one won’t bring about any change; a conscious effort at reforming and revolutionising the system will. This is why Aks is a feminist collective: we recognise that the trammels of patriarchy affect all of us—including males—and we would all benefit with its removal.
Recognising that the family and home can often be a site of subjugation for women, Aks works with survivors of domestic and intimate-partner violence. Aks focusses on empowering these people and helping them lead a life of dignity. Apart from survivors of domestic violence, Aks assists people who have suffered gender-based violence outside the home and provides emotional support to them.
To “listen, acknowledge, and empathise” is thus one of Aks’s mission statements: no victim of such violence should ever have to go through it alone.
Practising What We Preach
To give effect to our beliefs, Aks operates a 24×7 crisis line that provides a safe space to all callers. Callers are welcome to talk about any feelings or distress resulting from gender-based violence that they have suffered.
Aks also operates a legal line (12 p.m.–12 a.m.) for Pune residents. Callers to this line will be assisted by Aks volunteers in reaching out to government officials for relief under the law. The volunteers themselves are well-acquainted with the various provisos of the Domestic Violence Act and other laws; legal experts will assist callers in additional details and processes.
However, these measures only provide relief post facto. To stop these types of occurrences from taking place in the first place, Aks conducts training and education at the community level. These workshops and events focus on gender sensitisation, gender-based violence, among other related issues.
As a feminist collective, Aks is clear about its goals: a dignified life for all victims of abuse and, more broadly, a society that does not permit abuse in the first place.
Kieran Correia -Aks Volunteer
(Kieran is a detail oriented first-year law student with a keen interest in domestic and foreign affairs.)