Tibetan Women Helpline. Photo:TPI

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Dharamshala — "In these three years, we have received about 56 phone calls from Tibetan women asking for help, including counselling, economic problems, domestic violence and other types of violence, but most of the calls are about domestic violence,” said Choedon, the staff member of Tibetan Women Helpline in Dharamshala.

Tibetan Women Helpline (TWH) was established and launched in March, 2020 by the Women empowerment desk (WED), Department of Finance, CTA, in collaboration with the Central Tibetan Women Association (TWA). Tibetan Women Helpline aims to counter Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in the Tibetan community. TWH aims to promote safety for all women and girls in Tibetan communities in India.

“We help these women according to their problems. If the woman has to tolerate the man's violence, because she is economically dependent on him, we help her to work and offer her a safe place to stay for a short time. We will continue to support the woman until she is free from economic and domestic violence,” TWH stated.

“First of all, we try to solve the problem among ourselves, by discussing it with the family members, but if we cannot solve it, we ask for help from the head of the Tibetan Settlement Office, if we have not been able to solve it and the woman wants to go to the court or the police station, we also give her help, including legal information and language problems,” Choedon said.

“When they have called for help because of domestic violence, when the situation is serious, we take the woman to a safe place for a week. If she is injured, we provide medical help and then a safe room with all the necessary things. Then we try to talk to their husband and solve the problem in a peaceful way. If the problem cannot be solved within the family, then we help the woman to go to court if she wants to and give her all the information about the court case, so that she can decide whether or not to go.” she explained.

“If a woman asks for counselling, we give her all the advice we can. If she is still depressed or anxious, we seek help from a medical psychologist,” she added.

“In these three years we have received about 56 phone calls from Tibetan women asking for help, including counselling; most of them are victims of domestic violence or other types of violence. Although this is a women's helpline, we also help boys and school children (aged 18) who ask for help,” she said.

The Central Tibetan Administration is committed to creating a Tibetan community free of sexual abuse and exploitation and ensuring justice at the centre of its relief and development work.

According to TWH information, it provides safe space/shelter for aggrieved women who feel unsafe in their own homes and do not have a safe place to go. The safe space was established with the objective of creating an environment where women and girls can enjoy the freedom to express themselves without the fear of judgment or harm. For protection and safety reasons, TWH does not disclose the location of the safe space or the location of our complainants. 

When it comes to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, awareness is essential in order to counter them. SGBV is an issue that cuts across every section of the community. The only way to prevent such violence is by spreading awareness of the issue. Therefore, the Tibetan Women Helpline is not limited to, but also provides awareness on the following issues:

1. Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Workshop
2. Gender Sensitization Workshop
3. Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health
4. Legal workshops (Domestic Violence Act, Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, Violence Against             Women and Cyber Crimes)