Women's Dignity formed in 2002 to defend and promote the rights of women living through one of modern-day Europe's deadliest civil wars.
The Chechen war for independence from Russia, which began in 1991, has claimed between 100,000 and 200,000 civilian lives. Thousands of Chechens have been maimed, kidnapped, tortured and executed. Political and economic instability have fostered government corruption, armed banditry and organized crime. Libkan Bazaeva, the director of Women's Dignity, says that Chechnya has become a "silent society that lives in a condition of fear."
At Women's Dignity's rehabilitation center in the war-torn capital of Grozny, one lawyer, one psychologist and one gynecologist provide services, and lobby on behalf of hundreds of women. Though free movement is limited and dangerous, some rural women also travel to the center for assistance.
"We consider the work of the women's center urgent and essential to the future of our country," explains Bazaeva.
The psychologist at the Women's Dignity rehabilitation center provides counseling to women traumatized by a decade of brutal conflict. Many women have lost children, parents and husbands, who have been killed by military forces or kidnapped by warlords. The gynecologist sees individual clients who require medical care and orchestrates group clinics on reproductive health. The gynecologist also attends night births, as curfew can prevent pregnant women from seeking medical attention at night.
Recently, Women's Dignity has enhanced its legal advocacy efforts. The lawyer primarily handles pension cases, helping poor women navigate the intricacies of the corrupt government bureaucracy. In most cases, the government has refused to pay financial compensation to women disabled by the war, women who have lost husbands or for homes destroyed in the conflict. Legal services are prohibitively expensive, and those without counsel are often forced to bribe officials.
Women's Dignity is using its most recent Global Fund grant to run educational seminars for women, police officers, public defenders and legal authorities on legal rights and duties, and women's rights.
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