Dalit Freedom Network UK supports the following programmes run and staffed by our Indian colleagues…
Preventing Ritual Sex Slavery
Empowering Joginis and former Joginis in Telangana to be community leaders delivering awareness programmes, stopping illegal Jogini dedications, connecting individuals with government health, economic and education programmes, and supporting vulnerable women in the community. The numbers of dedication ceremonies has fallen drastically since the programme began. Legal action to challenge poor enforcement of the law is also ongoing.
Providing grants to enable Joginis and former Joginis in Telangana to set up microbusinesses in the community. These include various roadside stalls, chili powder production, goat-rearing and many other initiatives providing a livelihood and helping to restore dignity. Women are also able to save and to recycle some of their income to enable others to set up businesses. Tailoring training and sewing machines are also provided to enable young women to set up clothing repair services in their villages.
Developing primary healthcare in five Telangana villages initially through locally appointed community healthcare workers, specifically to reach those who are untouched by existing healthcare provision. This includes Joginis and others from Dalit, Tribal and low-caste communities. As well as health education, health workers target preventable and minor health problems. In addition a particular emphasis is placed on preventing HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, which are prevalent among the Jogini population.
Providing care and support for girls from Telangana who are most vulnerable to being forced into ritual sex slavery. Most are daughters or grand-daughters of Joginis. They are only given places in the shelter with the full agreement of their mother. Through the shelter, girls are able to receive basic healthcare, emotional support, counselling, quality education in one of our schools, a nutritious diet and to experience a loving caring environment.
Jogini programmes in the planning stage:
- Primary Healthcare Centre
- Short-term Women's Shelter
- Home for Elderly Joginis
- Economic Development Centres
Our AIDS centre in Karnataka aims to reduce the incidence of HIV and sexually transmitted infections among the Devadasi population by providing testing, diagnosis, treatment and counselling. Peer educators are recruited from Devadasi communities to support the work of doctors and technicians. Economic empowerment programmes are also being run.
Preventing Human Trafficking
Tarika provides a multi-dimensional approach to prevention and rehabilitation in relation to sex trafficking and other forms of exploitation and abuse experienced by women from Dalit, Tribal and other poor and marginalised communities. Based in Karnataka, the centre not only provides residential care for a small group of vulnerable girls, but also vocational and skills training for up to a hundred women from nearby slum areas, helping to build confidence and restore dignity.
Working in slum areas in the state of Telangana, this programme is a holistic approach to trafficking prevention among communities that are most vulnerable to such exploitation. Staff visit the slums on a regular basis building trust and developing relationships. Through these visits families and individuals are able to freely access nutritious food, basic healthcare, emotional support, vocational training opportunities and advice on government benefits and schemes.