In the 1980s, a field action project, which later developed into a socio-legal service to address Violence against Women (VAW), was initiated and developed by an academic institute of social work in strategic partnership with the police in Mumbai and Maharashtra. This service, termed the ‘Special Cells’, worked in tandem with the police force, and in the past three decades, has been replicated in eight states across India.
Women Survivors of Violence is a first-person account of the evolution of the Special Cells. In the mid-1980s, the author was the first social worker of the TISS-initiated ‘field action project’—working on the issue of violence against women from within the police system. The result was the introduction of Special Cells in the police system. This narrative traces the 29-year-old journey of this institution, and provides a deeply personal account of the effectiveness of a multi-agency coordinated response to VAW, in the form of a partnership between an academic institute, the police system, and the violated woman.
This books adds to the limited literature available in India on the processes and lessons learnt from developing and implementing an intervention on VAW. It details the processes of understanding the violated woman and the police; setting up of systems to work with women from within the police system; and engaging with the state as the instrument that can secure the right of women to a safe and secure life. It critically reflects on the learnings of the Special Cells from the women, police, the state, law, and social work practices, in the context of the ongoing struggles to respond to violence against women.
An informative and deeply important account, this book will be of interest to students and educators in departments of Social Work and Women’s Studies, government personnel, trainers in police academies, and administrators. Those interested in women’s issues will also find it fascinating.
Foreword by Armaity Desai
List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Appendices
1. Evolution of Thought on Violence Against Women
2. The Special Cell: Setting the Stage
3. Taking Root: Eliciting Police and State Response
4. Leveraging the Academic Institution: Role of the TISS
5. TISS’ Vision of a Just Society
6. Back to the Present: The Way Forward
7. Pulling it Together: Reflections and Learning
Timeline of the Special Cell
About the Author
Anjali Dave is Professor, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.