Relationships, the institution of marriage, all things to do with marital affairs, are all held in high regard in India. Abuse is normalized and divorce is stigmatized. Endurance and sacrifice are glorified in our culture, while leaving something that hurts you is something society cannot accept. Women are taught that tolerance is glory and the essence of being feminine. True strength and endurance lies in rebuilding ourselves and putting those pieces back together.
If a bowl is broken, rather than discarding the pieces, the fragments are put back together with a glue-like tree sap and the cracks are adorned with gold, this is the Japanese art form of Kintsugi. There are no attempts to hide the damage, instead, it is highlighted. Taking this metaphor and applying it to real life relationships has lead to the inception of Project Kintsugi, a divorce and domestic violence assistance start-up based out of Chennai.
Indu Gopal started Project Kintsugi in February 2019 after her divorce was finalized in 2018. “Despite having a support system, I met hurdles while handling questions about divorce. Meeting other divorced women and communicating freely was a problem. That is when I started Project Kintsugi as a community for women with similar experiences. What started as a one person initiative is now India’s first ever divorce and domestic violence assistance start-up,” says Indu while describing Project Kintsugi. The main aim behind Project Kintsugi was to create a safe space for women to find people to empathize with and find solace in a closely knitted community.
“Financial independence IS very important. Especially in the space that I work in, I hear a lot of stories about women not being able to leave an abusive relationship because they are financially dependent on their partners. It’s always important to have an emergency or a safety fund in such cases,” says Indu who emphasizes on women being financially vigil and independent.
Movies are at times a reflection of society, though they are blurry at times, they manage to convey the essence of certain social issues. With movies like ‘Ammu’, ‘Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey’ and ‘The Great Indian Kitchen’ putting their take on protagonists handling abuse and violence, everything needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Indu opines, ‘Thanks to media, there is visibility about some of the issues women face but it’s still conflicting and inconsistent. And, that’s why I think movies should not be the only source to educate people because not all movies can or should carry a social message”.
Project Kintsugi is on the fast track to becoming India’s first divorce and domestic violence assistance startup. Which is a long way from where Indu started ‘Project Kintsugi’. What started as a pet project is now a community of over 1500+ women empowering and supporting each other without judgement. “It is vital for us women to have safe spaces like this. I believe in the idea of women supporting women and I witness it every single day through Project Kintnsugi,” says Indu.
Indu offers one on one counseling, and guidance for women who are going through divorce. She also has a web app with crowd-sourced contacts of therapists, lawyers, psychiatrists along with a Facebook community of 1500+ women uplifting each other through rough stages. You can find the details here: https://theprojectkintsugi.com/