Rehabilitation Centre For Torture Victims (Rctv)
Sudhanthra â€“ a journey of hope â€¦
Sudhanthra â€“ an initiative for women in distress was started in August 1995 with the aim to provide counseling, legal support and short term shelter for women in distress. This initiative later joined hands with Peopleâ€™s Watch in its work for human rights.Â In the year 2000, as a result of the realization at Peopleâ€™s Watch that the victims need multi-dimensional support in sustaining their physical and as well as mental strength both as an individual and as a family in their pursuit of attaining justice, Sudhanthra amalgamated as the Rehabilitation Centre for victims of Torture and domestic violence and other forms of violations.
Holding hands and accompanying the victims until they restore their normalcy has been the single point agenda of Peopleâ€™s Watch in establishing rehabilitation homes: one at Madurai and the other at Mettur; both in Tamil Nadu. Services ranging from shelter, food, legal support, vocational training, counseling, medical and mental health assistance are some of the services offered by Sudhanthra â€“ RCTV.
- To provide medical, psychosocial assistance / treatment to victims.
- To provide security and temporary shelter to victims of torture who are at risk of further abuses.
- To promote socio-economic rehabilitation for victims and their family members.
- To provide educational assistance for victimsâ€™ children.
- To encourage networking with various like-minded organizations/movements.
RCTV â€“ Mettur
The RCTV Mettur was initiated in the year 2005 to provide rehabilitation services and assistance to the torture survivors of the Special Task Force of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the course of their anti-Veerappan operations.
Most of the victims who were extremely poor and illiterate were subjected to the cruellest forms of torture. The RCTV Mettur provides medical care and socio-economic assistance to the victims. The Centre is presently small, despite the dire need for rehabilitation. Land has presently been acquired there to expand the centre. At present medical treatment and physiotherapy services is provided through mobile clinics once a week. Physiotherapy is also being provided in the Centre on a regular basis. (Refer Annexure 1). Â Apart from this, an Economic Development Program is also being implemented in RCTV â€“ Mettur through which assistance has been provided to the survivors to supplement their livelihood options. For many survivors who have now become physically and mentally unable to take up regular jobs, this economic assistance has helped them earn a living.
The Centre at Mettur has also initiated the process of organising the survivors along with others as part of a larger human rights movement. This is an effort to build a culture of resilience where the survivors will take strength from within the community itself and thereby reduce the shame and guilt they constantly experience as a result of the stigma attached to them.
The RCTV Mettur centre is itself a symbol of security. The presence of the Centre itself provides the survivors a sense of being safe and secure. We see many survivors frequenting the Centre whenever they feel the need for support and solace. The RCTV Mettur team itself comprises of torture survivors who have been empowered by Peopleâ€™s Watch to take forward the rehabilitation work in that area.
RCTV Madurai centre:
The RCTV Madurai centre is a safe home for victims of all forms of human rights violations. The Centre is a short stay home where apart from all basic necessities, the victims or witnesses are provided with professional counseling, legal support, medical and physiotherapy treatments. Occupational therapy has also been initiated for victims during the tenure of their stay. The victims are given the strength to continue their struggle for justice.
The strength of RCTV has been the network we have established with many like minded individuals and institutions for referral services. Various multi specialty hospitals and specialists work with us effectively helping us establish this work for victims of torture.
Helpline takes up cases of domestic violence and other forms of violence.Â The Helpline is an assistance facility available at Peopleâ€™s Watch for any person in need of our services. This is a referral point for the RCTV Madurai centre. The Helpline has a professional social worker, a Clinical Psychologist and an experienced human rights lawyer who provides multidimensional support in the form of counseling, legal advice and mediation.
As part of the rehabilitation work, Peopleâ€™s Watch provides educational assistance to children of victims or child victims themselves. Children who have experienced various forms of torture become emotionally and mentally distressed and their troubles are compounded by the loss of the main breadwinner of the family. The situations in the family prevent many children from going to school. Such children not only lose their right to education but also their childhood. In other words, they lose their right to life, right to family, right to home, right to privacy, right to rest and leisure, right to dignity, right to education, right to health, right to play, right to recreation, etc.
For over nine years now, Peopleâ€™s Watch has contributed to the lives of many such children in an attempt to educate a new generation of youngsters by equipping them with basic academic qualifications. Many of the children we have supported are now in professions like social work, teaching, nursing, engineering and so on. This has been our small effort at bringing hope into the lives of victims of human rights violations. This year, in 2009 â€“ 10, this support has been extended to 378 children.
Sangamam - Summer Camp:
Since 2002, every year, in the month of May, the Centre has seen the congregation of over two hundred children for the Annual Summer Camp. This is a camp with a difference â€“ it is an effort to rebuild hope and confidence for our children to experience their lost childhood and provide them an opportunity and a place where they are helped to be relieved of their traumatic experiences. Efforts are taken to impart a variety of skills and activities like computers, Yoga, meditation, games, trekking, art, craft, environment science, folk dances and songs, rural sport, naturopathy etc. to these children.
These are some of the miniscule efforts that are being made as part of our larger struggle to establish a human rights culture. Our efforts are small drops in the ocean but we are sure that our sustained work for holistic rehabilitation will definitely have its mark on the lives of many more survivors of human rights violations. We hope that every survivor regains his/her lost dignity and captures that positive ray of hope in this scenario where human rights are universal.
A dream yet to be realizedâ€¦
We are aware that any problem in society affects women and children the most. Even here, among the STF torture survivors, the most battered are the women, many of them still further affected as widows. The life of a widow in Indian society is pitiable and related to a lot of stigma as a result of which they suffer to get even their basic amenities. Permanent housing is always a big question mark for many of them. A dream of ours has been for a housing complex built for the widows who are STF torture survivors. Land has been procured for this purpose. Though we believe in â€śin situâ€ť housing for survivors to help reintegration, this effort is to establish an icon symbol of peopleâ€™s victory in their fight for justice and also as a sign of shame for the Government for their inaction and apathy.