I want to help women directly

I want to help women directly
Ms Sheena Kanwar used to write about crimes against women in India.

She used to be a development journalist in India, writing stories that focused on social issues in villages.

The crimes against women that Ms Sheena Kanwar wrote about spurred her on to become a social worker to help them instead.

The 32-year-old moved to Singapore three years ago and began working as a social worker at the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware).

She will head Aware's new Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC), which officially launched its services yesterday.

The centre allows women who have been sexually assaulted to drop in to consult social workers without an appointment.

The hotline will also be extended to midnight from the usual 9.30pm.

Ms Kanwar said: "I did not just want to write about social issues regarding women - I wanted more direct involvement too."

In Delhi and Mumbai in India, she worked as a social worker in police stations to assist women and children.

She said: "The crimes against women in India involve much more physical violence than those here in Singapore."

Her training put her in good stead to contribute to Aware's social work.

"There were times in wthe early days when the cases I took on disturbed me and I needed more support from others," she said.

Ms Kanwar believes that social workers are important as a point of contact for the assault victim.

She helps her clients here with the legal process, drafts letters, and even accompanies them when they file police reports.

"The process at the police station takes at least three hours. Sometimes we are there way past midnight," she said.

SCARS

To Ms Kanwar, the most disturbing cases are of clients with a history of abuse.

"I think of how the abuse affects them and how they've kept silent all these years, with their pent-up feelings," she said.

She has also seen cases, such as those related to domestic violence, that have caused such severe physical injuries that the victims had to be sent to the hospital. Every case is different, presenting her with new challenges.

"You can't compare cases because each one is unique. Each person has their own traumas and experiences.

"Every day I am learning from the new cases I get," she said.


This article was first published on May 27, 2014.
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