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Dance Therapy For Healing Nepal's Battered Women

A social activist from Kolkata has conceived a novel method for healing women of Nepal those who were forced into prostitution and abandoned street children surviving abuse. //

Sohini Chakraborty, director of Kolkata-based Sanved, received the prestigious Ashoka fellowship in 2003 as a tribute to her work of rehabilitating young sex workers in West Bengal using a unique method of mental healing - dance therapy.

Now, helped by US-based NGO Daywalka Foundation, which has branches in Kolkata and Kathmandu, she has brought the therapy to Nepal, one of the world's poorest countries from where thousands of women and children are trafficked to India each year.

In February, a 10-day dance therapy session was organised here for residents of transit homes and shelters run by Nepali NGOs for women and children, where Sohini taught 21 participants how to feel positive through body movements.

"The therapy was a mix of movements, meditation and psychological counselling," Renu Shah, a counsellor and psychologist with Saathi, a Nepali NGO that runs shelters for battered wives and children, told IANS.

"It was like a breath of fresh air for the residents, who have known little happiness in their lives. Their lives are strictly regulated by law and even in their transit homes and shelters they are forced to follow a schedule. There's little entertainment.

"But the sessions brought happiness into their lives. You need happiness to survive."

The concept of dance as therapy started evolving in the 1920s. Its basic tenet is that since body movement reflects the inner state of human beings, by moving the body within a guided therapeutic setting, a healing process begins.

The therapy addresses conflicts and issues at the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels and creates a full integration of mind and body.

American dancer and choreographer Marion Chace is regarded as one o
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