A twelve year old Indian girl crying, alone on the deserted village street, blood dripping from between her small legs.
Renu Singh, herself a girl of fifteen years, sees the girl and, deeply concerned, asks what had happened to her. The girl points silently at a balcony on which her father stands. Renu wants to save the girl from her father, who had violated and raped the girl repeatedly and impregnated his own daughter in the process. Without any further delay Renu takes the girl on her moped and they leave together.
It was in that moment that Renu Singh’s work as lawyer and advocate began, now spanning thirty years and counting. When Renu enters the room one can feel that she exudes something magical and powerful. When she speaks about her work with such passion and energy, she gives evidence to her deep knowledge and guidance.
As a young woman she created the now fully-fledged Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) Sa-madhan. The fight against violence against women had begun.
SAMADHAN offer solutions and shelter for women who have fallen victim to repeated sexual ex-ploitation, incest, child marriage, domestic violence or organised trafficking. With the support of Samadhan they could change the path of their destiny. Samadhan is an oasis for women in which they find protection and where their rights are vindicated.
Since the foundation of the NGO, over 3800 women have found help here. After the first few years of rehabilitation, the slow overcoming of their initial muteness and unfathomable anguish, they be-come self-confident women, able to stand up for their own and other women’s rights.
Loud and strong voices emerge!
Many of the women have managed to complete an education and enter the world of business in-dependently. From these, 1700 women have successfully finished a degree in law and are now working as advocates for the same cause!
an Interview with Renu Singh on video
Women, who chose the rehabilitation program by Samadhan, don’t pay for it. When Renu appears in court, standing up to the rapists, she does it free of charge.
Renu earns a living by giving workshops on law to the Indian police and army. She lives a modest life in a house right next to the women’s centre. Her whole life revolves around her mission. Seeing the women recover and blossom has more value to her than any money ever could.
Her husband has stood faithfully by her side through all the difficulties from the very beginning. They met in their early childhood and he was present when Samadhan came into being. When he proposed to her, she said: “You know I am already married to Samadhan. If you want to be my husband and stand by my side, you will have to sometimes fulfil the duties of a housewife and cook and be free from your Ego.”
He agreed and is, to this day, her biggest supporter. This modern interpretation of marriage in the patriarchal context of India, describes only rudimentarily what a free spirited person Renu is.
Renu tells us that she is constantly watched. Whilst we are interviewing her, in the current women’s centre, we notice a few men watching us from across the street, standing on an otherwise un-occupied terrace. Renu recognises them as men that were hired to stalk her by a gang of rapists. This group of men is often mentioned to us on this day. They are formed by men of high rank and position in society and pose a great danger to Samadhan. Renu fights hard and is feared; many men wish her dead. Renu likens herself to a black cobra who portrays herself as a fierce fighter, but is a truly vulnerable person underneath. She isn’t scared, she says, she couldn’t do more than die. She is sure that she would be reincarnated for the same mission.
Renu and the saved women are activists who are well educated in the law and careful to uphold it. Renu fights fairly, always showing her hand openly whilst risking her own life. She started this work with great passion and will continue to do so, if necessary to the bitter end.
But why does Samadhan have so many enemies? To understand this, one has to have deep knowledge of the system and society of India.