When a 10-year old Parvatamma was dedicated to a temple in Southern India, she was unaware of what was to follow. As soon as she hit puberty, her virginity was sold to the highest bidder and she was pushed into a life of prostitution after giving birth to a child at the age of 14. This is the story of many young girls in India today, who have been forced into the age-old Devadasi System. (You can read more stories here.)
The Devadasi system, practiced predominantly in Southern India, is a system of getting young girls married to deities in temples forcing them to never marry and stay dedicated to the rules. These girls, who are pledged to temples at the age of 8 and onwards, are abused physically and sexually by priests, landlords and other men, who pay a price to sleep with these girls owing to various superstitions.
It is estimated that every year around 4000 to 5000 are introduced to Devdasi custom and there is no way back for them. Abandoned by their families, the only way for survival for them is to either beg or to succumb to prostitution. Most of these young girls end up catching STDs/ STIs & HIV etc and also face the hazard of early pregnancies.
This project aims to develop an emergency support mechanism for these girls. Further, we aim educate them on how to protect themselves from AIDS and other hazards.
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Our goal is to offer quality education to youth & women and prepare & set them to accept any challenge in Society by strengthening their skills and persona through it.
The proposed geographical area of project is Chandgad Taluka in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra state in India. Around 3% of the Devadasis in India live in this district making it’s a critical place to work around.
- There is only one Primary Health Center available for the population around 30,000 where only two professional doctors are offering services. Huge burdens on PHCs decrease their efficiency and reach up to all the citizens.
- The project is needed to reduce health hazards like early and dangerous pregnancies, transmissions of STDs/STIs & HIV etc.
- Health issues of girls living with HIV needs to be addressed and measures should be taken accordingly as high mortality rate is observed due to AIDS among Devdasi & control is mandatory.
- Also it is important to develop an emergency support mechanism in cases where immediate medical interventions in serious cases would be possible being it a remote and unapproachable area.
- We need to provide Education in Preventive measures. Statistics depict that 1/3 of rural women who have heard of AIDS do not know any way to avoid infection. It is due to ignorance, carelessness, stigma, guilt conscious regarding the issue.
- Identification of HIV positive and negative Devdasi girls out of targeted 250 Devdasi girls will be our first step.
- Activities for those tested positive will include understanding the level of infection and encouraging them to receive medical treatment and support like ART, a health initiative to better the lives of those tested positive, promote the use of preventive measures with condom distribution to avoid transmissions to others, providing nutritious food for them, counseling them to leave the profession and rehabilitating them though strategies like institutionalization or providing them vocational training through various activities in income generation, counseling them to remove stigma and guilt conscious etc.
- Activities with other victimized girls of the ritual of child marriage will include providing sex education to them to keep negative, generating their support to use preventive measures, a special focus will be on advocacy on helping them to come out from their cluster, creating sources of income for them, organizing training on reproductive health and informing them hazards of early pregnancies, organizing community education sessions on danger of early child marriages
- Advocacy Activities for policy making. Formation of Concerned citizens group (CCG) consisting lawyers, police officials, policy makers to work against the issue of practice of child marriage as it violates the right to education & right to health of girls and make them helpless and dependent We are already rescuing girls from child marriage and institutionalizing them until their security at home in confirmed Advocating legal actions on promoters and followers of such unlawful practices to establish control.
We, along with the help of our partners, have been working in these areas since the past 25 years, and have built a strong rapport with local people, groups, influential political forces, law enforcing officials and other government bodies. This helps us carry on our activities without any interruption.
Since we are effectively working in this field since years, we carry a strong knowledge and great experience in dealing with the issue. We and Our partners even facing the unfavorable conditions like non availability of resources, reluctance of people in coming forward for treatment, constraints occurring due to remote locations are working effectively with same and nonstop efforts it shows their strong dedication and commitment towards their performance. We are working at strongly required geographical area where there is need and no other support system is available to work for them
This project will be implemented for the adolescent girls who are newly introduced to Devdasi community that is forceful child marriage practice further converted to forceful prostitution on the name of rigid and strong ritual and custom in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra state of India i.e. known to be an issue prone area in the country. The project is carried out for 250 girls with the special focus on their rehabilitation, health and advocacy on abolishing the practice from society. Duration of project is 2 years. Total budget of the project is 39, 00,000 INR for 2 years. The focus area of project is forced early child marriages, girls’ rights protection, and community support to GLHV and leadership to access proper reproductive and sexual health.
Number of Direct beneficiaries: 250 (Devdasi Girls)
Number of Indirect Beneficiaries: 3000 (Parents, Customers and colleagues of Targeted Devdasi Girls)
Enhancement of the status of Devdasi girls
The one who benefit from the funds: National Social Society
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