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About Maitri

The Maitri Network was set up in 2009 to give a voice to and address issues of Dalit, Adivasi and other vulnerable women who remain marginalised in the mainstream women’s movement in India. Dalit and Adivasi women in particular suffer discrimination and violence due not only to their gender but also to their caste. Their low social and economic status within the caste system, the lack of political voice, and the fact of being Dalit/Adivasi and female, increase their susceptibility to violence - compared to non Dalit/non-Adivasi women- and reduces their ability to escape this cycle. These women most commonly face verbal abuse, physical and sexual assault, and domestic and caste-based violence.

The Maitri Network, through its member organisations, works to raise awareness about such issues and to empower these women to speak up against injustices committed against them, to claim their rights, seek justice and to campaign for positive and lasting change.

The Network engages with men as key stakeholders and partners for lasting change as well as with government , judiciary and local communities. The Maitri Network currently covers the states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkand.

Violence Against Women

The United Nations defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."

Violence is a violation of women’s human rights and is a major impediment to their development and their participation in the decision that affect their lives. Unfortunately, according to UN estimates, one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence.

Despite the enactment of national laws and the ratification of international human rights agreements, such as the Beijing Platform for Action, which require states to prevent and respond to violence against women, many of the states that have signed such laws have failed to implement these obligations.

India is one such country that has existing legislation to protect women ; however, the incidence of violence against women, including verbal abuse, physical assault, sexual harassment and assault, and domestic violence and rape, continues to increase. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, an average of 92 women are raped in India every day. The total number of reported rapes rose to 33,707 in 2013 from 24,923 in 2012, a 35.2% increase. 13.1% of the total victims of rape were girls under 14 years of age, while 26.3% were teenage girls between 14 and 18 years of age.

Dalit And Adivasi Women

This situation is more serious for Dalit and Adivasi women who suffer violence not only because of their gender but also their caste. Their low social and economic status within the caste system, the lack of political voice, and the fact of being Dalit/Adivasi and female, increase their exposure to violence compared to non Dalit/non-Adivasi women, while simultaneously reducing their ability to escape. Impunity and lack of enforcement of existing laws to protect Dalit and Adivasi women have resulted in a very low conviction rate of less than 2%. This, together with fear of retaliation and shame mean that the majority of cases remain unreported, and women never get justice.


Our Approach

This situation is more serious for Dalit and Adivasi women who suffer violence not only because of their gender but also their caste. Their low social and economic status within the caste system, the lack of political voice, and the fact of being Dalit/Adivasi and female, increase their exposure to violence compared to non Dalit/non-Adivasi women, while simultaneously reducing their ability to escape. Impunity and lack of enforcement of existing laws to protect Dalit and Adivasi women have resulted in a very low conviction rate of less than 2%. This, together with fear of retaliation and shame mean that the majority of cases remain unreported, and women never get justice.