Rape. Abuse. Violence. Every time we hear or read these words, our blood boils and we burn with a desire to bring a change. But instead of just saying, “what’s happened to this country?” and flipping the page or changing the channel, Barkha Bajaj has come up with a solution.
A few years ago, if you asked Bajaj what she plans to do with her degree in psychology, she would tell you that she’d want to make a difference. And that’s exactly what she did. Owing to the Nirbhaya rape case that shook the entire country, Bajaj, after some travelling and research, understood that there isn’t a substantial helpline that's available for women and children who are victims of abuse, harassment and stalking. She then realised the need for such a helpline and it’s importance that was modelled on the NGO that she worked for in Dallas, Texas.
She established Aks Foundation in 2013, to provide a safe space for women, children and anyone else who has been or is a victim of abuse of any kind. Bajaj tells us that the reason she named her organisation as Aks was because, Aks is the Hindi word for a mirror and her foundation acts as a mirror for the society. Aks has three helpline numbers which are active 24x7 and are operating across India.
This helpline has 30 active volunteers who are trained to be completely non-judgmental towards anyone who calls. If anyone intends to get some legal aid, the volunteers then connect the victims to their legal team who will stand by you from start to end. Along with providing legal aid, the foundation also provides counselling. If you are in Pune and need counselling, it will be done face-to-face. However, if you are located anywhere outside Pune, counselling can be provided to you over the phone too. The foundation also conducts corporate awareness sessions where individuals are told how they have gender bias with or without their knowledge.
Along with this, the foundation also helps in educating children against sexual abuse. This is done in collaboration with schools across the city. The main aim of the organisation is to spread maximum awareness about abuse against children and prevent it before it happens. Hence we urge teachers, parents and everyone who is even remotely related to a school to collaborate with Aks Foundation and try to make this society safer for women and children.
Even if Aks focuses majorly in dealing with women’s problems, it’s not restricted to them. The organisation understands that sometimes there are men too, who are at the receiving end of abuse. Furthermore, Aks Foundation is not only restricted to binary genders, it is also approachable for members of the LGBTQIA+ community without any bias.