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Empowering women

July 17 -23, 2019
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Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille




Gulf Weekly Empowering women

More females have been flocking to join the ranks of the Women’s Crisis Care International, Bahrain (WCCI) to help aid ladies in domestic distress.

The WCCI, which was founded in May 2015 by New York State rape crisis counsellor Mary-Justine Todd, is the first and only full-scale joint Arabic language and English language rape and violence crisis response programme in the region.

The programme has grown exponentially since its inception; having supported approximately 65 women and in 2016 that number increased by more than 400 per cent. In 2018, the WCCI aided women in more than 550 cases of abuse in Bahrain.

However, with difficulties still on the rise, extra hands are always welcomed which is why the WCCI staged a three-day training course at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Bahrain to certify new crisis advocates to join the big-hearted team.

“Over 20 new crisis advocates have joined our team at WCCI and we couldn’t be happier with the women who attended the training and are now officially apart of our team,” said Mary-Justine. “It was incredible to see all women from a range of cultures and backgrounds coming together to help empower women within the country. The engagement in discussion and eagerness to learn and help from all these women is exactly what we strive for in our advocates. We are so grateful for such inspiring women to give their time to those who need us.

“We need more women to volunteer to keep the Arabic and English helplines running and keep going with the work we’ve been doing so far, hopefully being able to grow and offer more languages in the cultural melting pot of Bahrain where it’s sorely needed.”

The women underwent 40 hours of training in trauma, therapy, techniques and providing emotional and logistical support to victims. Now the ladies can help empower and assist women across the kingdom.

They will be taking shifts on the 24/7 English or Arabic hotline service for victims of domestic or sexual violence to call for emotional and/or logistical support. The official medical partner is American Mission Hospital and WCCI coordinates and supports AMH’s patients in all four of its locations in Manama, Saar, Amwaj Islands and Riffa. All WCCI services for victims of abuse are 100 per cent free of charge, confidential and open to all women in Bahrain without any restrictions.

In addition, three new summer interns have also joined the centre.  Alya Al Tareef will deal with the legal matters, Rumaisa Arshad will handle management and gender and social media awareness projects will be tackled by Reema Alajaji throughout this month and next. 

There will be a new training session in December and for details, visit www.womenscci.org or follow them on Instagram @womenscci, or on Facebook.

 

Meanwhile, here is what the new interns had to say about why they joined WCCI.

 

Rumaisa Arshad said: “Helping and empowering women makes me feel satisfied that I’m doing something good for others as well as for the community. I feel a part of a community outside my friends and family. While training I met so many people from different nationalities and cultures and it helped me to make new friends from all over the world in Bahrain and it’s given me good experience. Volunteering with WCCI builds empathy, strengthens social bonds and makes me smile and happy.”

 

Reema Alajaji said: “My interest in working with WCCI stems from my belief in gender equality first and foremost. I found that even among feminist groups, domestic violence was hardly spoken about amongst all the other gender-based issues, although it is deemed the highest cause for the death of women globally.

“One in three women worldwide has experienced domestic or sexual violence in their lifetime, although it is one of the crimes that have the lowest prosecution rates of only one per cent of cases. Violence against women and rape culture has been normalised by mainstream media to which we are all consumers, men and women, where we brush off that this is “just the way it is”.  I seek to raise awareness around domestic violence and educate those on the warning signs of abuse or abusive partners to focus on prevention of violence against women.

“Many victims and survivors can feel very lonely and internalise a lot of shame and self-blame for things that they never caused or deserved. I want to be there for the women and show them that they are not alone and can find a safe, non-judgmental space.”

 

Alya Al Tareef  said: “As a crisis advocate, I wish to hold space for women to feel safe, heard, and empowered to make choices for themselves. WCCI is all about promoting autonomy- we do not give advice but offer options and information for the woman to choose what works best for her. This is incredibly empowering and instils confidence in a woman’s belief of her own ability.

“I wish to promote a greater understanding to the wider public- particularly non-Arabic speaking groups- of the Bahraini law surrounding issues such as divorce, custody, abortion, violence and immigration. Law is one of the most empowering dynamic tools I can think of, and I want to make people feel like independent agents who are aware of what the law can grant them. It also reflects what we as a society believe in. Bahrain was the first country in the region to prosecute domestic violence, and I would like to encourage such laws to be adopted everywhere in the MENA region as well as aim for the most ambitious laws that promote women’s health and empowerment!”







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