On 15th February 2011, CEHAT (Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes) and POV (Point of View) released a short film, ‘At the crossroads’ (Is mod par). It is one of the first initiatives to highlight the role of health care providers in responding to violence against women (VAW), this film was conceived as a way to take forward the message that violence is a health issue and to thus, educate and train the health care professionals, through the work being done by Dilaasa. Dilaasa is a counselling department responding to women facing domestic violence, which emerged out of the collaboration between CEHAT and MCGM, functional for more than a decade now.
The Dilaasa newsletter, stating the role of each health care provider to respond to VAW was also released at this occasion by Dr. Seema Malik, Superintendent of 16 peripheral hospitals of Mumbai. The short film, traces the life of a woman called Meera who finds herself at a public hospital after having attempted suicide by consuming poison, due to the violence being faced by her husband. A sensitive nurse is able to probe for domestic violence and aids in the referral to the counselling department. During the course of the counselling interaction, the audience gets a glimpse of the subsequent changes that set in the woman’s life based on the woman’s perspective and her interaction with the society at large. The movie also highlights marital sexual violence, which still remains legally unrecognized.
This was followed by and interaction with the Director, Ipshita Maitra and the cast - Dhanendra (the abuser), Princy (the nurse) and Jude (the coordinator). An interview with Dr. Malik was screened which was followed by a discussion facilitated by Padma Deosthali, coordinator of CEHAT. The release met with an audience of more than 170, which included doctors, nurses, organizations and women from the community. The film was well received and the resonance of the sentiments of the protagonist could be observed in the survivors.
The scope of using the short film as training and sensitization and preventions is widespread. While violence against women is complex and a pervasive issue, Dilaasa as a counselling centre is one of the ways in which health care providers have been able to respond effectively to VAW.