Family Guidance Centers
The Family Guidance Center is our flagship program. Our approach begins with an attempt to mediate, through small community meetings called “jirgas.”
Two fundamental principles explain our community-based program design: women do not have to jettison their culture or their religious beliefs in order to take charge of their lives; men as well as women, perpetrators of DV as well as victims, must receive counseling if headway against this social scourge is to be made.
Our FGCs have gained widespread support from government and legal institutions as well as communities and families. This widespread acceptance of our FGCS may be attributed to the fact that mediation for family and marital conflict is endorsed by Islam, and also because the WAW process targets men as well as women, thereby reducing traditional male resistance.- Manizha Naderi, Executive Director
In 2006, WAW Executive Director Manizha Naderi moved to Afghanistan from Queens, NY, determined to create programming to address violence against women in Afghanistan. WAW conducted a 4-month feasability study to ensure that any programs we created complemented and enhanced existing programs on the ground, and served unmet needs of women and girls. The program model which we call, "Family Guidance Center (FGC)" emerged from that feasability study. The FGC is a facility which is open to anyone, man or woman, who has suffered a human rights violation. Almost all our clients have been women, but we have also served some men. It is a walk-in center, although many clients are referred by government ministries, the police, the Independent Human Rights Commission, or other NGOs.
We have teams of staff including lawyers and social workers who work on each case using a very community-based approach. The starting point in every case is an attempt to mediate. Our Family Guidance Centers provides counselling, mediation, and legal services for women and girls who are victims of gross violations of their rights, including domestic violence, sexual and mental violence, forced and underage marriage, being exchanged as compensation for a crime (the custom baad), honor killings, and being denied education. For cases involving physical danger, and women who cannot return home without risk of physical violence or death, every FGC has a shelter, which is hidden in another part of town. Women and girls stay in the shelter from 2 months to 2 years—until their cases are resolved and they can return home safely or until alternative living arrangements can be made.
The first FGC opened in March, 2007. Now there are 8 facilities in Afghanistan, and our goal is to open one in every province in the country. We’re determined to achieve this and surely will unless security deteriorates to the point that we cannot expand further, or worse, have to contract. Our trained FGC counselors and lawyers risk their lives every day working on behalf of women/girls who have suffered every human rights violation in the book, from garden variety domestic violence. torture, threats of “honor” killings, to being sold or handed over to other families for life as a piece of property that compensates for a crime.
To date, our FGCs have helped 2917 women, 1661 of them in Kabul. Our one-month old facility in Badakhshan has already worked with 8 clients.
Click here to read board member Esther Hyneman's description of her experience attending the inauguration ceremony of the Kapisa FGC during her visit to Afghanistan in March 2009.