Esther Women’s Network



Esther Women’s Network (EWN) is a collaborative effort of women and an initiative of STEP that intentionally seeks to restore the hurting, equip the marginalized and resource the suffering women through advocacy, life-skill training, holistic counseling and empowering women leaders by providing a multi-faceted training program in Northern Indian states.
On 10th February 2014, sixty five grass-roots women from various North Indian states such as Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, gathered together on STEP campus (an indigenous ministry working in the border region of Odisha and West Bengal since 2003) for three days to discuss the need for restoring, equipping and resourcing women in the context of crimes against women and violence. Christian women strongly felt the need for formation of a network in order to facilitate collaborative strategies with a goal to help suffering women in the society. As a result Esther Women’s Network was born.
Out of 1.27 billion people in India, 614.4 million are women. In recent years, shocking incidents—crimes against women in India have been reported. According to Alzajeera’s recent research report, “A women in India is raped every 20 minutes—that amounts to, on average, 72 rapes everyday.” Another study reveals that between 1953 and 2011, the incidence of rape rose by 873 percent, or three times faster than all cognizable crimes put together, and three-and-a-half times faster than murder in India. In 2012 alone, the police registered 42,968 cases of molestation of women. However, many say that most crimes against women, particularly those that are violent in nature, are not reported, and that the official figures far understate that reality.
Human trafficking is a reality in India. Operation World (2010) estimates that 90 percent of girls among children in India are abandoned and involved in prostitution in various cities in India. Poverty and discrimination are push factors for human trafficking. Girls and women between the ages of 6-18 from rural areas have been trafficked and forced into work in the cities. These girls are vulnerable to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Mental health issues including depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder have been increasing every year and it has become a social stigma for the families of the victims. In addition, the highest infant mortality, poorest immunization rates, and least access to pre- and post-natal care in the state make women lives difficult.
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