Terre des Hommes Netherlands rehabilitating victims of Devadasi system, preventing dedications and providing vulnerable girls with opportunities through quality education and vocational training
Published on January 26, 2021 at 4:51 am
Updated on January 28, 2021 at 10:41 am
The Devadasi system in lower caste communities is a religious sanction given to prostitution of young girls deeply rooted in a socio-cultural norm. The project aims to address exploitation of girls and their inequalities by strengthening the systems and services for child protection and child empowerment. The project focuses on child participation as a key approach to reaching its objectives, focusing on girl child-led community empowerment. The major interventions include girl child sensitisation, girl child advocacy and life skills training, community awareness, provision of education and vocational training as a means to both protect vulnerable girls and rehabilitate victims of the system.
Project: Children Empowerment for GOOD (Getting Out Of Devadasi System) and Preventing further Dedications
Contributing to SDGs:
- Goal 4: Quality Education
- Goal 5: Gender Equality
- Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities
Terre des Hommes (TdH) Netherlands prevents child exploitation, removes children from exploitative situations and ensures these children can develop themselves in a safe environment. Its thematic interventions cover worst forms of child labour, child trafficking and unsafe migration, commercial sexual exploitation of children, child abuse & sexual and reproductive health and rights. It operates in 18 countries. In India, its projects focus on addressing worst forms of child labour in Mica mines; prevention of child trafficking and child marriage in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana; addressing child abuse & sexual and reproductive health rights of early married girls and children of Devadasis in Karnataka.
The GOOD project is presently implemented in 81 villages across five districts of North Karnataka (Bellary, Koppal, Bijapur, Belgaum and Bagalkot). Vulnerable girls and victims of exploitation are identified and organised in children’s clubs or Kishori groups where they are sensitised and trained to be change agents within their community. They are provided with capacity building, life skills training, vocational training, enrolled in schools, trained on child rights, leadership, problem-solving techniques, lobbying with government and law enforcement agencies, all with the intention of breaking through the shackles of exploitation caused by the devadasi system, thereby enabling their progress. Communities, government and legal authorities are also sensitised to ensure a conducive environment for the development of children of Devadasis.
- Strong cultural and religious beliefs among the community which nurture inequality and discrimination
- The power hold of the upper caste and their political influence
- Involvement of political leaders themselves in the exploitation of young girls
- Rehabilitating victims of the Devadasi system, preventing dedications and providing vulnerable girls with opportunities through quality education and vocational training.
- Ensuring gender equality by facilitating girl child participation in community development and girl child empowerment, along with community sensitisation to prevent girls from sexual abuse/exploitation from the Devadasi system through mass awareness and advocacy.
- Strengthening systems and services for child protection by advocating with government and law enforcement agencies.
The GOOD project began in the year 2019-20 and has seen strong impact ever since:
- 50 + dedications have been stopped through monitoring and sensitisation
- Kishori (adolescent) girls have become very confident and approach government officials to discuss on and solve various community issues
- 687 girls are able to continue their schooling, of which 267 are first-generation learners
- Through vocational training, girls are on their way to economic empowerment, thereby reducing their vulnerability
- The government has extended support to the programme and ordered a resurvey of Devadasis
The project is implemented on the ground by networks of Devadasi women who have pledged to fight against the system. The project also works with the Panchayat officials, officers from the State Department of Women and Child Development, the District Legal Service Authority and the Police to ensure child protection. The main stakeholders of the project are the children themselves who are brought together and trained to represent their issues and bring out solutions on their own.
In each district, Kishori Club Facilitators and Citizen Action and Voice Facilitators ensure that children and community members are regularly engaged through sensitisation, activities and various training programmes. The project files both monthly and quarterly reports and documents case stories with photographs.
Replicability and Scalability
The project is sustainable as it ensures the development of the entire Devadasi community and others in the village by investing in children. Through sensitisation, education and vocational training, the benefits in the lives of the children and community are long-term. This is easily replicable across other development interventions as it functions as a ripple effect, where children set examples of being agents of change, inspiring a chain reaction across a large population. This also increases the scale of operations.
“We believe in empowering communities, not just by providing them support services but also equipping them to be drivers of their own development. Our focus on girl child-led and community-led interventions ensure sustained impact and steady progress in the lives of people even after our project period. By focusing on girl child empowerment through quality education and allied interventions, we address gender inequality in Devadasi communities.”
Terre des Hommes
India and Nepal
(Terre des Hommes (TdH) Netherlands prevents child exploitation, removes children from exploitative situations and ensures these children can develop themselves in a safe environment. Its thematic interventions cover worst forms of child labour, child trafficking and unsafe migration, commercial sexual exploitation of children, child abuse & sexual and reproductive health and rights. It operates in 18 countries. In India, its projects focus on addressing worst forms of child labour in Mica mines; prevention of child trafficking and child marriage in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana; addressing child abuse & sexual and reproductive health rights of early married girls and children of Devadasis in Karnataka.)