<![CDATA[Parents came to participate in a workshop about domestic violence in March.  In a society where people are embarrassed to talk about their problems, the women often take the blame if their issues come to light. Mom Phlan, Anjali House Social worker, explains why the workshop wants to break the taboo. Read the interview.

Women are holding hands during a workshop on domestic violence.

What is the workshop about?
In a society where people are embarrassed to talk about their problems, the women from the two communities we work with often take the blame if a problem comes to light. That is why we have decided to design a workshop about domestic violence. Indeed, we want to create a safe platform where the parents of our students (mostly women) have an opportunity to share what is on their hearts and minds. We have organised a first workshop in the beginning of March. . It started with the question “who among you has ever dealt with domestic violence?” All mothers present confessed that they had indeed dealt with difficulties like this in the past, but while the workshop continued, most of them admitted that it is in fact, an everyday issue.
Why is it important to run a workshop on domestic violence?
The women of our community often deal with domestic violence, sometimes on a daily basis. Most of the time, they have no clue how to address their problems or where to find help. We want to provide these women a safe platform where they can talk about their challenges. Moreover, we inform them about local NGOs that specifically deal with domestic abuse and encourage them to contact these organisations. 
During the workshops, we also want to raise awareness about the consequences of domestic violence on the lives of the children. We don’t make them feel guilty. The aim is to make them aware that domestic violence might affect their children’s attendance in school, test results and overall behavior. In their future life, it could influence how they react to arguments in their own households. So basically, as long as domestic violence is still a problem not dealt with, it will continue and to the extreme where it will  be normalised by children and mothers as a “normal” scene within the household. Awareness must break this mindset.
What is the impact of the domestic violence workshop?
During the last workshop, the emotions ran high when a woman was explaining that her husband, who regularly drinks, comes home often hitting her and the children. She tried to please him in every way she could but he keeps finding flaws in her behaviour, like being a bit too friendly to the neighbours. For this woman, just being able to talk about what was happening at home was a relief. She felt supported and this is a very important first step.
Now, all the mothers know they have a place to speak their minds without any judgements and if the situation continues or worsens, they also know they can speak to me privately.  Over a long period of time these workshops can make a difference in the community and provide better living standards for our students.
A former volunteer and also a professional social worker who had supported me with the design of this workshop said “the first step towards a solution regarding domestic violence is to talk about it”. This is exactly what we are aiming to do.
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