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    Dated : Saturday, January 07, 2017
 


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When She Rose Up, SHEROES Happened

Sairee’s Start-up is a Gift to Women Across the Globe


A lot of buzz about women empowerment has been trending for decades now.

     A country cannot have a progress without enhancing the status and the position of its women. True.

A holistic development requires having equal opportunities, affirmative action and inclusivity vested and balanced in its core. On one hand, where the importance on the growth of our country's women literacy rate is being rendered, on the other hand, we have Sairee's SHEROES, which offers a platform for the women who have a potential to make a stand of their own, maximize it, and lead.

The uniqueness of this platform lies in the fact that it also helps those literate women, who have taken a break from their work, to take care of the family and domestic happiness.

SHEROES lets you believe that every woman (She) is a Hero. Here is an inspiring story of this warm and widely popular start-up owner, Sairee Chahal, Founder CEO, SHEROES.

Tell us about yourself.

I belong to a typical middle-class family from a small town where studies and career are positioned as utmost important elements of life.

I was born in Yamuna Nagar, Haryana, but grew up in Uttar Pradesh with my only sibling, a younger sister. I am married. We have a young daughter whose life keeps us all busy and entertained.

From a career in advertisement & marketing to entrepreneurship, how was your journey?

I have had opportunities to explore diverse things in my life; hence, I have an assorted range of experience.

I used to work as a journalist for Advertisement & Magazine earlier. Newslink was my first startup that I built in 1999-2000, when internet was beginning to boom in India. That was kind of my training ground.

Tell us about SHEROES; its revenue model and annual turnover, so far.

SHEROES is a consumer-based internet company which builds a community of career-oriented women and offers a potent and sustainable platform for growth. We are all about catalysing women's potential and growth. Therefore, we bring a huge network of people from different arenas of professions to share their experiences, valuable suggestions, innovative ideas and more to provide other women a ladder to climb and chase their dreams. We ensure that there is enough leverage to be rendered to women when it comes to SHEROES. Through SHEROES, the users get to use a plethora of products like "mentorship", "career resources", etc.  The revenues come from different companies and from the platform itself.

Though we have extended our platform to different companies to recruit women, but we are not a recruiter.

Companies use different products and offerings that they use, plus we also provide  solutions for certain companies for their managed remote workforce.

Since you are in a way supportive of affirmative action, how do you comply with it while choosing the talent pool for your organization?

Yes, it's true that I believe in inclusivity; affirmative action and equal opportunity. SHEROES has evolved from these concepts.

I'm really glad to state that majorly we have women employees with a surprising ratio of 70:30 with the male employees. We have a slightly reversed structure here. Women who are working with us are a part of our own community. A lot of homemakers, young moms, and professionals are associated with us.

What are your expansion plans for SHEROES?

SHEROES is building communities and bringing talents together. It has become one of the largest women's communities in the world with a small footprint across the globe as of now, but primarily focused on India where a larger base exists.

This is one of the reasons why we are investing a lot in the platform to make it more user-friendly & resourceful, in addition to promotions and advertisement it requires. Soon, you will see a global version of SHEROES.

You have been in the Leadership Fellowship Programme with Aspen. Summarize your learning experience there.

Aspen has polished my skills, thinking and analytical abilities, and so on, to carve a better individual & a professional out of me. All I have learnt from it is Challenge Yourself and Find New Frontiers.

#Mumswithoutbabysitters.. This is my story, your article, tells how you have been tiptoeing to keep your personal &d professional duties aligned, especially, when the babysitter was absent. But this is not allowed & appreciated everywhere. For example, breastfeeding a child in the pubic has become a social censure, across the globe. Working moms are criticized if they feed their baby when it feels hungry outside home. How women should cope up in such a scenario, keeping both motherly duties and profession in place?

I believe that there is never going to be a perfect set ready for you to align your priorities. For women, the fact is that the best support you can get is from the other women. Take my case for an instance. I wouldn't be here, had my baby sitter, caretaker, younger sister, and my mom wouldn't have been supportive. Women interact more in communities and do well when they work in communities.

So, help yourself and other women.

Apart from this, I think there should be a common consciousness floating in and around the society regarding the stance of women and her abilities. The biological needs of women can't be underestimated so a certain privilege should be given to this multi-tasking gender.

However, it is also a fact that we are progressing gradually.

At the beginning of this last century, women were not even allowed to get out of their domestic life and work.

But look at the things now. Time is changing. We are evolving (sixteen years in twenty first century), slowly though, but not stopping anywhere. And, as the old proverb goes, slow & steady wins the race.

When it comes to feeding an infant, people should understand that it's a primal need. And, each one of us is required to keep this in view when it comes to making policies, rules, provisions, and perceptions, instead of creating chaos. Our institutions need to be designed to include inclusivity in their structure, vision, etc.

What keeps you going?

My passion keeps me going. This is all I want to do and I'm glad that I am doing it.

All work, no play is definitely not Sairee's way. So, how do you spend your leisure time?

I spend time doing yoga, taking a walk, spending time with my pet dog, chit-chatting with my daughter, and so on, all in a stride to strike a balance in both professional and personal life and recharge myself.

You strongly believe in:

I think every person should build their own version of success and follow their heart. Don't worry too much since you have got just one life.

The fact that climate change has taken a toll, causing havoc in the world, and that you are staying in Delhi, falling prey to air pollution crisis, what are those 3 quick things that you want your readers to do as their bit of sustainability?

· Plant saplings as many as possible

· I want people to be a little more conscious about their extravagance to reduce wastage. We tend to be a bit of extravagant when it comes to celebrations, maintaining status, etc. We need to take a look at it.

· We should also stay connected to nature as human beings and nature will take care of us

Your ideal persons:

Anita Roddick, the Founder of BodyShop; Dame Shirley, Singer; and Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the Founder of Paytm

Your resolution for 2017:

To be more watchful about my fitness. Practice more yoga and walking, but I also want to work harder. 

3 wishes a Genie, what would they be?

I would ask for:

· More nature and greenery

· More serendipity

· More connections, to make a larger network for SHEROES

Your message to the startups:

Start-ups need to find their purpose, and give it a shot without refraining themselves because of the fear of failing.

A few words for the North East Women.

I'm very inspired by the women in the North East. They are well read, smart and strong. I want to see more women from the North East following their passion, and coming up with their own start-ups and making a firm imprint as an entrepreneur at the present time and ahead in the future. I want to get an opportunity to serve the platform of SHEROES to as many women as possible in the North East.

We are online, and have a career helpline to guide them. We are accessible, and they can reach us, on our app SHEROES and also talk to the counselors and mentors on our helpline whenever they want to. All the best and make the most out of 2017. Happy New Year!

 
 

Menace of Domestic Violence

By Rituparna Goswami Pande

Wanna fall out of love, get married! Marriages, they say, are made in heaven but surely bad marriages are made in hell and suffered on earth. It's better to be ditched in the altar than surfer and feel persecuted after being trapped in a bad and violent marriage. To be together "In sickness and in health" is what people promise when stepping into the realms of being assigned into a state of marriage. But many fall short of this promise when circumstances force us to act otherwise.

Parinita had married her high school sweetheart - a courtship that lasted through school and college and finally culminated in wedlock. It was a mismatch there was not an aorta of doubt about that among her friends and family but blind that love is, it puts one on a "willing suspension of disbelief" mode where the love struck shun all logic and fall head over heels in love sometimes with the wrong person. Parinita had to flee her husband's house in the middle of the night one day after she was repeatedly hit by her longtime sweetheart turned monster of a hubby in a matter of a year. It was a marriage that transformed her and scarred her for life, a marriage that changed her outlook on life.

For Parinita was a victim of domestic violence. Her husband tortured her, marked her body with cigarette stubs, gave her a black eye and beat her till she lost consciousness.

Maitreye, on the other hand, had settled for an arranged marriage. A marriage fixed by her parents to an allegedly "prized catch" where the groom was a total teetotaller and had no vices. He was handsome and desirable and Maitreye was on cloud nine to have found the perfect match. But she was caught unawares when the perfect groom tried to rape her on their very first night and demanded she hand over all her financial assets to him. She was treated more like a slave in her new home rather than a better half to her husband. She ended the marriage after three excruciating months and is now too happy to be single again and averse to the "M" word.

But all are not so fortunate as Parineeta and Moitreye who had the privilege of walking out of their disturbing marriages. Thanks to the mindset of our society which doesn't go easy on broken marriages there are thousands of women out there for whom life is a living hell and without any fire escape to freedom.

Sarita is a pretty woman in her late thirties. She likes to keep to herself and liked by all but not many are aware that she is suicidal. Her life took a menacing turn when she found out one day that her hubby was having an affair with their middle aged tenant. When confronted the husband refused to end his clandestine liaison which pushed Sarita into an emotional abyss. Twice she attempted to end her life but was saved at the nick of time but would she be third time lucky? She doesn't have anyone to fall back upon, and nor is she financially sound to support herself and her five year old son. Sadly there are many Saritas in our society who are fighting a one battle within themselves.

Domestic Violence also referred to as domestic abuse or spousal abuse occurs when a family member, partner or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically have an upper hand over another. Domestic violence often refers to violence between spouses, or spousal abuse but can also include cohabitants and non-married intimate partners.

Women are usually at the receiving end of domestic violence probably due to their lower status in society. It occurs in rural as well as urban areas owing to various factors. Domestic violence occurs in all cultures; people of all races, ethnicities, religions, sexes and classes. Domestic violence can be perpetrated by both men and women but cases of violence committed by women are rare.

One can come across it in one's own backyard, neighbors, friends or relatives as our society is filled with people who consider it an act of maleness to torture weak and helpless women who can be one's wife, sister or even a domestic slave. Often there are tales of horror hidden behind smiling faces. Faces that hide their bruises with make up or mask the ache in their hearts with forced laughter.

Domestic violence has many forms, including physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, economic deprivation or threats of violence. Such violent behavior can sometimes termed criminal when it includes physical assault (hitting, pushing, shoving, etc.), sexual abuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity), and stalking. Although emotional, psychological and financial abuse is not criminal behaviors; they are forms of abuse and can lead to criminal violence.

Apart from physical and mental torture other factors associated with domestic violence include heavy alchohol consumption, mental illness, classism, etc.

On very few occasions cases of such aggression are brought in the forefront for fear of social stigma and litigations. Sadly in India the women usually rural women are brought up in male dominated families and given lessons of male dominance from a very early age. Many a times young girls grow up watching their mothers suffer from such forms of violence and consider it a normal occurrence to be persecuted by their husbands. And life goes on until the day their lives are snuffed out.

Urban societies are not free of this social stigma either as there are many educated and enlightened women even in cities who become mute victims of domestic violence in the hands of their male and sometimes even female family members out of fear. Since to rebel would also get her tagged as a single woman which would invite other social stigmas. Financial dependence is another factor, which dissuades women to take drastic measures.

According to a United Nations report around two-third of married women in India were victims of domestic violence. As many as 70 per cent of married women in India between the age of 15 and 49 are victims of beating, rape or coerced sex, the United Nation Population Fund report said. However, the rate of domestic violence is much higher in Egypt with 94 per cent and Zambia with 91 per cent.

In 1983, domestic violence was recognized as a specific criminal offence by the introduction of section 498-A into the Indian Penal Code. This section deals with cruelty by a husband or his family towards a married woman.

The punishment is imprisonment for upto three years and a fine. The complaint against cruelty need not be lodged by the person herself. Any relative may also make the complaint on her behalf.

However, as domestic violence is a breach of human rights the new domestic violence law The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005) is a gender-specific civil law that addresses the issue of domestic violence more comprehensively than ever before and provides for the woman's immediate needs of protection from violence and violation of human rights.

Domestic violence cannot be defined in a specific way as it is a complex matter with many aspects. Sometimes women are tortured physically and at times psychologically. The new law considers all aspects of violence in all forms by providing women with remedies such as monetary help, residence orders, protection from violence or compensation. The Act can therefore be termed as a boon to persecuted women provided they are aware of their rights and willing to take matters in their own hands instead of suffering mutely. Just like the marriage vows and registration of marriages, the laws against domestic violence should also be alerted to brides and grooms so that they become aware of the pros and cons of domestic violence and are able to take action if and when the need arise.

 
 

LEGAL RIGHTS OF INDIAN WOMEN

Domestic Violence (Part-III)

Monetary relief: The Court can direct the respondent to pay money to the aggrieved person and the children, to compensate for the  loss of earnings, medical expenses or any expenses incurred by the aggrieved person, due to loss of propertyby destruction, damage or removal as a result of the domestic violence. The aggrieved person in her application  should  specify the amount claimed by her and quantify the expenses claimed under various heads such as food, clothes, school fees, tution fees, household expenses etc.

If the respondent fails to make the payments according to the Order passed, then the Magistrate can  give a direction to the employer or a debtor of the respondent to directly make such payment to the aggrieved person or to deposit the said amount in the Court which will be adjusted as the monetary relief to be paid by the respondent.

Custody Orders: The Magistrate can grant temporary custody of the child or children to the aggrieved person & allow only visitation rights to the respondent ,if necessary. If the Court considers that the visit of the respondent would be harmful to the interests of the children, then the Magistrate may refuse visitation rights to the respondent.

Compensation Orders: Apart from the other reliefs, on an application made by the aggrieved  per-son, the Magistrate can direct the respondent to pay her, compensation and damages for injuries, including mental torture and emotional distress caused by the acts of domestic violence committed by the respondent.

The Magistrate has the power to pass ex-parte Orders (orders passed without hearing the Respondent) and Interim Orders if the circumstances  require it. When a Protection Order is passed against the Respondent and he breaches (fails to abide) such an Order, it is an offence and he can be punished with imprisonment for a term upto one year or with a fine upto Rs. 20,000/- or with both.


Nikita Barooah,
 Advocate Gauhati High Court
E: nikita.barooah.legal@gmail.com
 
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Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one?s courage.
— Anais Nin
 
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