SAATHI, a nongovernmental organization, was established in 1992 by a group of women to address contemporary challenges being faced by Nepali women. In keeping with this agenda, Saathi identified Violence against Women and Children (VAW&C), particularly domestic violence, as an area requiring urgent attention and intervention. At that time, the concept of VAW&C had not yet attracted the attention of legislators, leaders, social workers and statesmen. Conversely, violence against women, particularly domestic violence, was accepted as traditional practice. SAATHI was therefore a pioneering organization to break the silence around domestic violence. Since 1992 it has persistently continued its crusade to safeguard women and children against abuse and coercion and to empower them by making them aware of their rights and responsibilities.
This crusade began with a pilot survey on domestic violence conducted in Kathmandu. The results of the survey proved that domestic violence is widespread in Nepali society and that Saathi was justified in taking up this cause and breaking the silence around the related issues. Prior to this survey, domestic violence was kept completely under wraps and was considered to be something that should not be discussed or brought out into the open. Since 1992 SAATHI has come a long way via the implementation of various programs related to research, advocacy, awareness raising, training and networking.
Over the course of Saathi’s work it became apparent that there was an overwhelming need for a shelter for physically, mentally abused victims/survivors including victims of different forms of sexual violence. Hence in the absence of such a support system in the country Saathi is proud to have established the first shelter of its kind – ‘Ashreya Shivir’ in 1995. The residents in this shelter come from different socio economic background from all over the country. In the shelter they are provided shelter, medical support, legal, counseling, and if required, referral services. In addition to these services, they are also provided non-formal education and income generating skill training to develop a sense of confidence and economic independence resulting in self reliance.
Since 1995 the shelter has directly served over a thousand physically, mentally, sexually abused, abandoned women and children. Thousands of others have received counselling and guidance. With the care and support they receive in the shelter, many physically abused victims/survivors have been able to heal and overcome their trauma. Most importantly, they have been able to move ahead and lead a violence free life they deserve. It gives us immense pleasure to see and share the impact our work has made in the lives of these survivors.