Skip to main content

Naaree Interviews Nidhi Seth Of Empower

Nidhi Seth founded “Empower” to help Empowerment of Women through various awareness projects. She is one of the Managing Directors of the Luxury Solutions & Board Advisor to ASSOCHAM on the National Luxury Council.

She was recently honored with the “Super Women Achiever Award” at “The World Women Leadership Congress & Awards” where women from 66 Countries were awarded.

Nidhi Seth Empower

She is also State Chairperson of Luxury for All India Ladies League. An MBA in Finance & Marketing, she has worked in various Corporate organisations for 17 years including a few MNC banks.

Naaree caught up with Nidhi Seth to learn more about her Empower Initiative that aims to help victims of Domestic Violence.

Tell us more about the Empower Initiative and what you hope to achieve with it.

Empower is a movement to sensitize women not to silently bear atrocities from their Spouse. More than help them, the need is to mentally attune them to realise that they don’t have to continue to go through the situation they are going through by tolerating abuse.

They have a CHOICE to get out of the situation by not taking abuse in any form. Abuse constitutes verbal, physical, emotional, where a husband would hit his wife causing her physical pain, emotionally blackmailing her and verbally say abusive words to her.

Men who are abusive to women emotionally weaken the woman such that she feels that she is at fault. Such men even cry and apologize that they will not repeat abusing the women, but in actual sense, continue it again again. It puts an emotional drain on the recipient and healing can take ages to occur even when the situation is over.

Empower, Let’s Be The Change” will try to sensitize women who might be suffering in a similar situation to not suffer silently. Nobody has the right to hit you. DO NOT suffer in silence. Please speak up.

We will try to break this vicious circle by reaching out to women to garner the mental strength to Stand up for their Sake. We will sensitise Women to Be “A Victor” Than “A Victim.”

Though Empower we will reach out to women who will in turn reach out to more women. This chain will surely bring about an evolution. To not let any woman suffer, and to help this world become a better place to live for each human being.

What made you want to help victims of domestic violence and how do you plan to go about it?

There are many other Causes being spoken about like Cancer awareness, etc, but Domestic Violence which is such a sensitive topic is never discussed.

You would be surprised to know that Domestic Violence is prevalent in educated strata as well. And many women bear this silently. Your next door neighbor would be going through Domestic Violence and you would not even know about it.

I felt the need to do so when I realized there are women going through silently for years together. I went through Domestic Violence 10 years back when I was married to an abusive man. I almost saw a near-death experience when he tried to strangulate me.

Although I was an educated girl who had worked in the corporate world for many years, I was in that violent marriage for many months and did not have the mental strength to move away from the relationship, until my family helped me and stood by me.

Men like my ex-husband take advantage of the fact that we women don’t speak up and suffer silently, taking abuse physically, verbally, emotionally, mentally, etc.

I bounced back in life after moving away from the sour marriage and started living life again. People like him not only damage the dignity of one person, but always remain like this. He married another girl and continued with the same incidence of Domestic Violence with her.

When I won the “Super Women Achiever Award” last year at The World Women Leadership & Awards, I realized I need to do something more for society at large and need to speak up, for the sake of women at Large.

To show that we are not Victims but Victors in Life. I will not let another abusive man ruin the life of another girl.

You will be surprised, there are women going through Domestic Violence for years together silently, just because they don’t realize they can live a life of tranquility out of the relationship by speaking up. My aim is to sensitize society so that there is a dramatic shift mentally to support women which are going through Domestic Violence so that they can come out of their situation.

If we now let ourselves be defeated by cowardice, we lose the fundamental essence of humanity, turning us into objects submissive to the authoritarian power that is generating violence and fear in society. We will reach out to women stand up to take action and open the way forward for humanity.

What initiatives do you plan to take?

Causing harm to another human is inhuman, and the perpetrators besides inculcating mental, physical and verbal abuse , demean women to such an extent that they start feeling they themselves are the reason for the Cruelty and they deserve to be in the situation.

Women in such situations get emotionally weak and remain in the situation as the perpetrators manipulate the situation. If you can help one individual, you will help ten. Because in the circle of that one person, there will be ten others whose way will open.

We will reach out to women through Social Media and other events. This will help to create awareness amongst women to stand up against any abuse and to speak up.

We are tying up with Lawyers and other associations to provide emotional support and guidance to women who are looking for any help externally.

One action to consider is that society should boycott and ridicule men who inculcate Domestic Violence. Such perpetrators are freely roaming in society amongst us after hurting, not one but many, women. We, through Empower will encourage society to not support such men but speak up against these perpetrators.

Nidhi SethWhat message would you like women to understand with respect to domestic violence?

Women who go through Domestic Violence, never talk about it as society has conditioned us to remain silent.

And they become emotionally so weak that they start feeling after sometime that they this is their fate throughout life – that they have to undergo Domestic Violence and pretend to have a blissful married life to society.

They get conditioned to it and do not have the mental strength to think that they need to get out of the traumatic situation. It starts with a decision – to make up their mind to move out of the current situation. And the next step is to seek for help to move out of situation.

There are two ways to handle this situation:

One is to mentally and emotionally strengthen women by creating a society that allows women to come out and share what they are going through. The decisive moment when they realise that they will not stand any abuse.

The second is to tackle the situation legally or in other ways.

The biggest problem I think is the mental and emotional low that women who are going through. They do not realize that they should not stand through any abuse even for once, as people who inculcate Domestic Violence promise to change, but never change.

• To sensitize women to never tolerate any kind of abuse at any level-physical, verbal, emotional. Do NOT tolerate any of these.

• To never put up with abuse, no matter how contrite your partner is later. An abusive person rarely reforms. If you condone the first offence, chances are you’ll end up in a vicious circle of abuse – adoration – more abuse – apology. An abusive can really be manipulative. To sensitize women to come out of this vicious circle.

• Forgiving an errant partner is fine only if your partner has his basic values right. If your partner however makes his errors his habit, he will not change. He is just faking an apology.

• Don’t fool yourself that the situation would change automatically, and that your partner will improve. If he is abusive or an alcoholic, he does not care for basic human values.

• Children exposed to a foul marriage get permanently damaged. Scars rarely heal.

It is not easy to end a bad marriage. It is difficult, traumatic and hurtful. There is nothing more destructive than a damaged relationship. If the air you breathe in your house is foul, how healthy can be your life as a couple?

An enriching marriage is one which is based on love and respect. It should help both partners grow.

Do not tolerate abuse in the name of adjustment. A person who inculcates physical abuse on his wife is committing an act of inhumanity.

So stand up & don’t take abuse at all!

Any other insights you would like to share with us?

Some studies show that nearly 7 out of 10 women in India have suffered some kind of Domestic Violence. Most of the cases are unaccounted for.

Domestic Violence is prevalent both in educated & uneducated strata. It is surprising to see that it is more silent in the educated upper strata, where women bear atrocities silently and the men pretend to be the perfect husbands.

In many cases of abuse, women are hit badly and asked to cover up their bruises and lie to society that she fell down, etc. If she does not agree to the perpetrator’s demands, she is hit even more and sometimes maligned with false allegations. Such men fake an apology and continue to make their violence a habit

• An abusive person will try to put you down in front of people at every opportunity.

• An abusive husband will either have a drinking problem, a false ego problem or a feeling that he is superior in everything.

Each of us can help. Turn around and see if there is anyone in your neighborhood or friend circle who is going through Domestic Violence. Maybe you can make a difference.

Many women bear this through silently. Let’s stand up to take action and open the way forward for humanity. You can empower women to stand up as self reliant beings able to break thru crisis and redirect their lives to a better future.

Plant the seeds of empowerment now will make this a reality. The morning never fails to arrive. It represents hope. Let us open the doors to a brilliant future. Let us open the doors to life.


Working Women Less Prone To Domestic Violence, Say Legal Experts

At a seminar on Legal Rights Awareness For Women, held to celebrate Women’s Day, the topics covered ranged from laws on domestic violence to sexual harassment at the workplace. Pallavi Bhattacharya reports.

Domestic Violence in IndiaThe seminar was organised by the Women’s Wing of the Sri Shanmukhananda, Fine Arts and Saneetha Sabha of Mumbai, on March 10, 2007, to celebrate Women’s Day. Eminent judges, legal delegates, law enforcement personnel and social workers addressed a packed auditorium of both men and women.

Justice Ruma Pal, retired judge of the Supreme Court, Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate, Anjali Dave, Social Worker, Sanjeevanee Kutty, Member Secretary of the Women’s Commission, discussed the new Domestic Violence Act of India, which took effect on October 26th, 2006 and shared crucial data and facts on domestic violence.

  • Domestic violence:

Highlighting the myth that chaste Indian women have to forgive their husbands for battering them, Justice Ruma Pal said, “I had participated in a workshop of judges in Delhi for South Asian countries on violence against women during which I met a woman who had been crippled for life for protesting to her husband for bringing his mistress to the house.”

“I had asked her what she would do next. She plainly said that she would go back to her husband. Lack of esteem, self-worth and ignorance of her rights made her believe that a woman is subordinate to a man and has no freedom of choice whatsoever.”

Previously in Bengal before a son left to get married he would tell his mother that he would get a dasi for her. Even though this ritual is no more practiced the perception of women being in a servitude position still continues in many Indian households.”

Sanjeevanee Kutty, Member Secretary of the Women’s Commission describing the various forms of domestic violence, its trends in India and the harmful consequences said, “Domestic violence is the largest category of crimes against women in India prevailing in all classes of society. Nearly 70% of married women within 15 to 49 years in India face rape, beating and verbal abuse.”

“Downtrodden families don’t have much privacy and therefore can’t hide domestic violence from others whereas women in affluent families are reluctant to talk about the violence in their lives as they fear that it’ll taint their image in society. Of all these forms of abuse though physical abuse is the easiest to identify, emotional and sexual abuse are also a part of domestic violence.”

“Emotional abuse may be a subtler form of violence but it can delve a human being into insanity, depression and even suicide. Examples of emotional abuse may be calling the woman a failure constantly, telling her that she is worthless, useless and ugly, mocking and humiliating her, accusing her of what isn’t her fault, telling others lies about her, abusing her if she doesn’t have a son, humiliating her and her family for not bringing enough dowry, ridiculing her for not being fair skinned, threatening to harm her and her children, locking her into her house, isolating her from her family and friends, not allowing her enough money for her food”.

“Domestic violence is not an isolated act of physical aggression but occurs over a period of time and follows a pattern that you see in the behaviour of the male. In fact it also escalates over time. Exposure to this kind of violence can even be life threatening for the woman. Statistics do show that being a working woman does make her less prone to domestic violence which indicates that it is crucial for a woman to be financially independent.”

Unfortunately many women think that the hubby has a right to abuse them. While I was a part of the film censor board I remember watching a film with Sushmita Sen as the female lead in which the hero hits her when she can’t control herself when she is hysterically upset.

In the next scene, Sushmita walks in when the lover is standing by the swimming pool. She touches the man’s shoulder with her cheek lovingly and says, ‘Mujhe tumarah marna buhot aacha laga’. When we cut that line the producer found it very difficult to understand why it had been eliminated”.

Dispelling the myth that a woman should stay with her abusive husband because of the sake of the children, Sanjeevanee said, “Children from houses of wife batterers are also often victims of domestic violence. Even while witnessing domestic violence they cry, refuse to eat, withdraw, suffer from frequent illness, severe shyness, have low self-esteem and trouble in day care.”

“Sometimes they take the blame of domestic violence on themselves as they think that they have caused it. Some of these children learn that violence is an appropriate way of resolving conflict in human relationship. Often adolescent children of these households tend to side with the male aggressor rather than the mother.”

“Another myth is that men are violent as they can’t help themselves as it is in their nature. In reality these violent men often behave themselves when in company of people who won’t tolerate domination or violence. These perpetrators simply love that they can rule with the use of force. They falsely accuse women of provoking aggression. All this shows that the safest place for a woman may not be home after all.”

The situation of women in violent relationships may not be as grim if they seek justice under the new domestic violence law. Senior advocate, Indira Jaising, explaining the new law said, “According to this law the aggrieved person can be any woman who is/ has been in a domestic relationship with the respondent as a wife, partner, sister, widow, mother or daughter. In fact it also includes women in relationships of cohabitation, bigamous marriages and single women in relationships.”

“Women in live-in relationships can also seek justice under this act. The three criterias that have to be met are that the woman has to be in a domestic relationship, be subjected to domestic violence and be/ have been a part of a shared household. The respondent can be any adult male member who has been in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person”.

Justice Ruma Pal pointed out, “The real difficulty in the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act is the failure of several state governments to appoint any functionaries under the act, to notify any medical facility or to provide any shelter homes or any infrastructure at all.”

“A successful implementation of the Act can only be brought about if all the authorities carry on these functions competently. Once protection officers and counsellors are appointed and medical facilities and centre homes are approved it is necessary to train all these functionaries not only about their duties regarding this Act but also about the human rights jurisdiction underlying the Act.”

  • Sexual harassment:

Senior Advocate, Nirmala Sawant Prabhavalkar, made people aware that sexual harassment at workplace didn’t just refer to the harassment that took place within office. Indeed 97% of the workplace is unorganized in India with work being carried on in a non-office set up.

Even women in rural areas in fields had the right to register sexual harassment cases. The Supreme Court has set guidelines to sexual harassment committees to facilitate women to register complaints by insisting for witness protection and that during the investigations the woman shouldn’t be asked obscene questions or victimised.

  • Moot court:

A special feature of this seminar was a moot court of divorce law by the Government Law College Moot Court Association. The fictitious case was that the husband Pranav and wife Archana were living in different cities for 25 years as their workplaces were located in Delhi and Chandigarh respectively.

The husband however did meet his wife at Chandigarh during vacations and the couple had a five year old daughter who lived with the mother. Ever since the birth of the daughter, the husband had been pressurizing the wife to leave her job as a lecturer in Chandigarh and stay with him in Delhi to be able to bear him a male child.

His wife didn’t want to leave her job and lose her financial independence especially when she was due for promotion, felt that a one-child family should be the norm in a highly populated country like India and it was very regressive and amounted to mental cruelty by her husband to insist for a male child.

A relevant point highlighted in this case was that despite women being highly qualified it was still expected that the wife should leave her job and relocate to be with her husband, but the husband wasn’t expected by society to do the same for his wife.

  • The final ‘verdict’- Equality and Empowerment:

The ‘verdict’ of this seminar was that equality and empowerment was the solution to gender based problems women faced. Justice Ruma Pal pointed out the disturbing fact that according to a UNICEF report the system of elimination of the girl child pre and post birth had lead to the phenomenon known as the ‘missing millions of women and girls’ with 60 million fewer women in the world than there should be under the general demographic trends.

Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, Associate Advocate General of Maharashtra said, “Despite laws women still just earn 1/10 of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property”. He went on to point out prevailing gender equalities under the Hindu Succession Act which deemed the son’s son’s son or son’s son’s daughter as A1 heirs but didn’t allow inheritance rights to daughter’s daughter’s son or daughter’s daughter’s daughter. Also widows of the deceased son and grandson were A1 heirs but the husband of a deceased daughter or a grand daughter weren’t legal heirs.

A.N.Roy, Commissioner of Police of Mumbai said, “Women need political and economic empowerment. They must be in the decision making situation. We have slum police panchayats. Among 10 slum representatives for the police, seven are women. As women are generally at the receiving end of all kinds of violence I feel that women are better naturally endowed to resolve issues. The women status has improved in those areas as the same women who were abused are now meting justice to the abusers.”

Justice B.N.Srikrishna, retired judge of the Supreme Court, while giving his vote of thanks said, “Lack of awareness and education prevents people from exercising their rights. So spread the knowledge you have acquired in this seminar to downtrodden women.”


Photo source ophelia