Community Organizing and Transformative Change in the Response to Domestic Violence in India

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American Journal of Community Psychology



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Abstract: Pervasive cultural narratives that normalize domestic violence have made efforts to respond to domestic violence in India challenging. An effective response to domestic violence in India needs to be transformative in nature, supporting the empowerment of survivors of violence and empowering communities to support survivors. Various studies have highlighted the importance of settings like grassroots organizations for promoting empowerment of members through community organizing. This qualitative study builds on this growing body of research using a grassroots agency in India as an exemplar to understand (a) empowering processes at the individual and community level associated with the agency’s community organizing efforts; and (b) salient mechanisms associated with social change and action in the response to domestic violence in the community. At the individual level, the agency’s organizing efforts provided knowledge, skills and resources, and opportunities for participation and leadership. At the community level, the agency engages in capacity building and increases social capital of members. The mechanisms that emerged as salient were increased critical consciousness of members, an emphasis on breaking the silence around domestic violence, community trust and cohesion, and capacity for informal social control. Implications of our findings for intervention and prevention work are discussed. Highlights: Community organizing is an important avenue for change in the response to domestic violence. Community organizing can facilitate empowering processes like participation and leadership. Building capacity and social capital is central to facilitating empowerment of communities.

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Community organizing, Domestic violence, Empowerment, Violence against women


Center for the Study of Family Violence and Sexual Assault