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Location

14 Villages of Chikkodi Taluka, Belagavi district, Karnataka
Thematic Intervention: Protection(Child Marriage)


Project Context

This project has its beginning in support from the Karnataka State Women Development Corporation (KWDC) and Mysore Resettlement & Development Agency (MYRADA) for the Devadasi Rehabilitation Program in Karnataka. Ms. Shobha Satyappa Gasthi, the Project Holder herself part of this evil system, being forced to become a Devadasi at the age of 12 years. She had to face all the discrimination, humiliation and oppression by the upper caste men of being a Devadasi at a young age. Shobha began to work as a volunteer in the Devadasi Rehabilitation Project since 1996 as part of the KWDC program. As a volunteer she had visited all the Yellamma temples of Bijapur, Raichur, Belagavi, Koppal, Dharwad, Haveri and Gadag to work with Devadasi to stop the practice. Shoba Gasthi was invited by United States Consulate General - Chennai for International Visitor Leadership Program - 2016 to work on “Raising awareness on gender based violence in Karnataka” on account of her long-standing work on children’s rights, and girl child rights in particular. The team has been successful in eradicating the practice of forced Devadasi system in Belagavi. They have strategically destroyed the symbols of ritual sanction to the practice of Devadasi system by publicly appealing to the people to stop forced Devadasi system. Their most successful campaigns have been to convert the ‘Bangle Breaking’ ceremony on a full moon day to ‘Bangle wearing ceremony’ on full the moon day. Another campaign focused on engaging with the progressive Swamijis (Hindu Saint) to appeal to the women to stop the forced Devadasi practice, which mobilized lot of women to stop the ritual. They also went ahead and organized a large scale cutting of the growth of matted hair in young girl children in Belagavi which was a symbol for Devadasi system among young girls. They have been able to stop the practice of forcing girl children into Devadasi system with strong and wide presence of the women collectives and rigorous monitoring during the village festivals in and around Saudatti temple.

Problem Statement:


Child marriage is a social problem wherein girls are robbed of their childhood, denied their rights to health, education and security. In Chikkodi taluk of Belagavi district team has identified high incidence of Child Marriage. Team has recorded 58 instances of child marriage (aged under 18 years) between 2011 and 2014 and another 19 cases in the year 2015 alone. The patriarchal system prevalent and strictly being followed, lead to discrimination against girl children. Child marriage is a manifestation of discriminatory practices against the girl child, societal norms, poverty, and lack of availability of high schools in the region. Devadasi system, which was an historical system of oppression of women through dedication of young girls in the region with Saudatti Yellamma Temple located in the District, had a major prevalence in the region, which has been mitigated to an extent due to the project’s efforts. However, the oppression & violence against women and girl children continued in different manners such as in child marriage & child trafficking due to patriarchal mindset. Child marriage is a social norm which is also reinforced by religion. Child marriage robs girl children their right to childhood and every opportunity develop and grow through access to health, education and protection. This also damages their mental and physical health which has intergenerational detrimental consequences. Official apathy doubled with weak policies & laws have not helped in complete eradication of child marriages in the region.

Achievements & Impact


Key Result Area: Build a protective environment in 14 hamlets of Chikkodi taluka in Belagavi district to ensure girl children are protected from violence, abuse and exploitation manifested by child marriages

Program Activities Planned Progress and Achievements

? Identification and continuous follow up with adolescent girls / families in high risk of dropping out from schooling and child marriage. ? Strengthening the community based forums such as mothers collectives, adolescent girls collectives and children collectives, with knowledge on child rights, basic/ preliminary responses in the cases of violations ? Sensitization of community on negative impact of child marriages / risks to girl children / patriarchy / Prohibition of Child Marriage (Karnataka Amendment 2017) Act and the importance of girl child education through direct family visits and family counseling. ? Demand for improving school infrastructure, up-gradation of schools. ? Enrolment of children and high risk girls to school education. ? Engagement with ICPS / Gram Panchayat to form VCPC's. ? Monitoring mass marriage events in the Taluka towards prevention of young boys and girls into forced child marriages - Doctors Age Certificate, adhering to all the norms on mass marriages. ? Facilitate the Children's Gram Sabhas in 4 Panchayats: Engagement with children in the process

? 1,299 families in 10 hamlets of the operational area were sensitized about child marriage and its negative effects through organizing week long awareness program through theatres. ? Team organized special meeting with women groups (not mother’s collectives) reaching out to 284 women, discussing about prevention of child marriages. ? Organized one massive district level campaign in Chikkodi on girl child dignity and protection involving various government bodies, which received wide coverage by media networks. ? 3 new ICDS centers were sanctioned. ? 2 schools have been upgraded as a result of community – government interface. ? 15 children from the operational areas have been selected for residential school with full tuition fee scholarship. ? Team has been able to avert 3 child marriages due to the constant discussion of ill effects of child marriages within the community and mothers collectives. ? The team has formed 8 adolescent girl’s collectives and conducted over 52 meetings, directly reaching out to 104 adolescent girls across operational areas. ? 6 children’s collectives have been formed in the operational areas and there are about 90 children who are members of these collectives.

Highlights on community action and government interface:


The partner is member of CRY promoted state advocacy alliance “Samajika Parivartana Jana Andolana [SPJA]”. The project holder was selected as a member of manifesto committee, to contribute in the SPJA’s advocacy efforts for children on the occasion of 15th Karnataka Legislative Assembly elections in 2018. It participated in both content development and a press meet in Karnataka state titled, “A Call to all Political Parties & Independent Candidates to Priorities and Uphold Dignity of Children in Political Party Manifesto”. In line with advocacy process, the project team organized press meets in Belagavi district on 5th March 2018. Ms. Shobha Gasti, spoke to the media group explaining the demands of state alliance related to child rights.

A private trust had organized a mass marriage in Chikkodi Taluka during the reporting period. The team got to know about this event and planned to ensure no children are married in the guise of mass marriage functions. They discussed the issue with the mass marriage organizers and also made representations to the officials to check the age proof certificates of the couples who were going to get married. However, on the day of mass marriage the trust violated the norms of mass marriages and hence the team brought this issue to Karnataka State Alliance and through them to Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) and is now following with the government officials to validate the age of all the couples.


Partner has submitted three memorandums to District Councilor and Block Elementary Education Officer (BEEO) of Chikkodi Taluka, demanding up-gradation of 8 schools in our operational areas. As result of the interface meetings along with community representatives, three schools have been up-graded and up-gradation of two more schools and one school compound boundary is in progress. Partner has been following up with respective government departments and local Panchayat on other demands related to school infrastructures and appointment of teachers.

Plans


Key Result Areas Program Activities Planned

Empowering Girl Child - through community awareness, strengthening adolescent girls’ collectives, mothers’ collectives and advocacy programs and ensuring education & dignity of girl children.

? Organize block level awareness campaign cum conference / event on dignity of girl child in Chikkodi
? Capacity building for women community organizers in all project projects in Karnataka state on child rights, women rights, high risk adolescent girls, patriarchy, violence, child marriage etc.
? Identification and continuous follow up with adolescent girls / families in high risk situations.
? Organize community plays (Jatha/ folk programs for issue based sensitization) on child marriages, direct counseling to families of adolescent girls, wall paintings/ writings on harmful impact of child marriage on girl children in 10 villages.
? Facilitate placing of demand for improving school infrastructure and up-gradation of schools.
? Ensure enrollment of children and high risk girls in schools and ICDS centers.
? Engagement with ICPS / Gram Panchayats to form Village Child Protection Committees (VCPCs)
? Monitoring mass marriages in the Taluka to protect young boys and girls from being forced into child marriages – though verification of doctor certified age certificate, adherence to all the norms on mass marriages.



Key Result Areas Program Activities Planned

Strengthening child participation

? Conduct regular meetings with adolescent girl’s collectives discussing various issues that affect their lives and involvement of decision making. ? Conduct regular meetings with children's collectives.
? Facilitate organizing children's Grama Sabhas in 4 Panchayats and engagement with children in the process.
? Document the key outcomes and learnings; carry out in-depth analysis to improve understanding on child marriage situations; and assist in development of prevention methodologies.

Financial Summary: January to December 2018


Budget Breakup 2018

Education

651

3%

Protection

15,823

62%

Participation

2,496

10%

Administration

6,615

25%

Total Grant Approved

25,585

100%