Sisters in Bhopal set up a legal cell for women abuse victims
by Purushottam Nayak

The Holy Spirit nuns are active in Madhya Pradesh through the Uday Social Development Society. The congregation picked 12 nuns to staff the Nyaya Chaupal or legal cell. For Archbishop Leo Cornelio, "empowering women is a symbol of family development."

Bhopal (AsiaNews) – The sisters of the Holy Spirit have set up a legal cell to provide legal aide to women, girls and children who are victims of sexual abuse at home or in the workplace.

The initiative kicked off on 28 June in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, where the nuns are active in the social field through the Uday Social Development Society. For now, 12 of them have been selected to work in the Nyaya Chaupal or legal cell.

Archbishop Leo Cornelio, who backs their work, said that "empowering women is a symbol of family development. Women must have the liberty to live freely, to talk without fear, and the chance to grow in every sector. "

About 1,100 women and children attended the event, which was held at the Bhopal School of Social Science.

“The main objective of the programme is to increase awareness about violence against women and adolescents and get justice” said society secretary Sister Lizy Thomash.

“Awareness among women about the law and their legal rights is very important,” said Dr Raghvendra Sharma, president of the Madhya Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

"The family is supposed to be the safest place for children and any type of violence, including domestic violence and harassment, should be totally eliminated,” he added.

The Uday Social Development Society is a voluntary association founded in October 2003 by the nuns of the Holy Spirit in the central Indian province.

It encourages the development of society’s disadvantaged classes by promoting human rights and equal opportunities for residents of Jatkhedi and Bagmugalia, Bhopal’s two main slums.

Since 2010 its activities have expanded to other districts in Madhya Pradesh, like Indore, Khandwa and Jhabua. Today, the Uday Sisters operate in 34 villages in 20 panchayats, reaching about 45,000 people in 117 slums.

“The role of this core team will be to settle problems consensually and mutually at their level and when this method does not work, they will take it further with the collaboration of other agencies and people,” said Sr Rosily Paniji.

“Training will be imparted to women to further enhance their capabilities to address the issues related to women and girls,” she added.