Read the full article here. →
Rape affects tens of millions of women every year in India and survivors often do not have access to mental health and legal resources, especially in rural and low-income areas. UMA for Survivors is a non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of sexual assault survivors in India. UMA seeks to provide post-trauma care to survivors by training medical professionals who are typically first responders to a sexual assault how to provide adequate counseling and implementing advocates in hospitals for ongoing cost-free trauma counseling to survivors.
Our area of focus is the "second rape," a phenomenon in which societal response to a sexual assault survivor's account of rape is so demeaning and demoralizing that it causes a second wave of trauma. According to Rebecca Campbell, a professor of Community Psychology and Program Evaluation at Michigan State University, "When victims do report to the criminal justice system, the way in which they're treated is very distressing to [them]. And they do describe it as a second rape or secondary victimization. Something that exacerbates their post-traumatic stress symptoms above and beyond the rape itself." In order to address the potentially traumatic process of reporting assault and seeking justice, UMA for Survivors aims to provide training to address the stigma around sexual assault, especially in the medical community that are the first responders to an assault.
Despite the changes that have taken place in the Indian legal system since the Delhi gang rape case of 2012, there is still no standard procedure on the proper treatment of survivors when they seek treatment, leading to uneven quality of care and enforcement of survivors' rights to resources. UMA addresses this by training medical professionals on United Nations-sanctioned policies of addressing sexual assault to ensure survivors are provided adequate treatment.
Create and run workshops for medical colleges
We are currently in the process of getting a workshop curriculum approved to train future medical professionals on how to provide high quality care and support for sexual assault survivors. The curriculum is based on crisis guides released by the United Nations and best practice guidelines released by Indian and American NGOs. You can read about our most recent workshops here.
Utilize advocates to facilitate trauma counseling
We are currently in the process of hiring full-time advocates to work in hospitals to ensure proper trauma care and crisis counseling for survivors of sexual violence. Our goal is to have full-time advocates by the end of 2018, as well as an advocate supervisor to ensure advocates are trained and working with the highest standards of inclusive social work in mind.
Collaborate with eminent advocacy organizations
We recognize the phenomenal work being done in this field by non-profits and NGOs; we are standing on the shoulders of giants as we do our work and we fully plan to work with complementary organizations to accomplish our goals. We are partnering with like-minded, Pune-based organizations to continually expand our list of workshop presenters, build out our curriculum, provide resources to sexual assault survivors, and expand our range of care.