on the details of
16 revenue villages and 4 hamlets/ slums of 8 panchayats of Chikkodi taluka of Belgaum district of Karnataka, India.
MASS was founded in 1997 when the Karnataka State Women Development Corporation (KWDC) and Mysore Resettlement & Development Agency (MYRADA) supported the Devadasi rehabilitation program in Karnataka. MASS aims to secure justice for women and children. The organisation’s leadership comprises of marginalized women who were victims of the devadasi system.
Belgaum is known to be the commercial and industrial hub of north Karnataka. However, child marriages is common in the district which increases risk of adverse reproductive health consequences as well as other health hazards. Alcoholism among men, acute poverty, gender based traditions and insensitive attitude of men have made girl children more vulnerable to gender based violence.
One of the predominant features of the district is the Devadasi system wherein young girls (sometimes even before they are born) mainly from dalit families were forced to be dedicated to a local deity and were expected to lead an ascetic life in the service of the goddess. As the tradition degenerated into an exploitative one, only dalit women were forced to lead life as devadasis, particularly from the lowest rung within the dalit community. Belgaum, Bijapur, Davangere, Bagalkot, Raichur, Koppal, Dharwad, Bellary, Gulbarga, Shimoga, Haveri, Gadag and other districts of north Karnataka are witness to this system. High infant mortality rate, lack of public health care facilities, malnourishment, lower number of ICDS centers, high rate of school drop-outs, child trafficking are some other critical child rights issues in the area.
- Strengthening protective environment and rights of the girl child, which would reduce violence, abuse, child marriage and injustice towards the girl child.
- To monitor the status of adolescent girls and prevent the girls from forced child marriage.
- To increase the access to high schools, with the approval of 3 more high schools for 8 gram panchayats.
- To monitor and strengthen the provision of girl’s toilets and other basic facilities in the schools for facilitating increased girl children enrolment and retention in the schools.
- To monitor the survival of the girl child and access to healthcare to reduce the widening sex ratio gap.
Achievements & Impact in the Review Period
The team has been successful in eradicating the practice of the forced Devadasi system in Belgaum district. Currently with CRY partnership the organisation is operating in 16 revenue villages of Chikkodi taluka in Belgaum district of Karnataka. The project is focused on ensuring dignity and education of girl children by preventing child marriage, child trafficking and girl children being forced into Devadasi practice in the area. Major achievements in the review period include:
- On identification of immediate threat of child marriage/trafficking, the team got involved with 53 families for counselling and averted the threat posed. The team has been able to directly reach out to 163 families.
- Over 5,000 people were sensitised about the harmful impact of child marriage, trafficking and child labor.
- Team has carried out extensive fact finding of 19 cases of child marriages in 13 villages of 20 operational villages.
- 3 cases have been addressed and referred to Childline Belgaum and the team ensured the children were produced before CWC which has ordered children to be sent to fit institutions.
- 185 (93 boys + 92 girls) children were trained for entrance examinations for various state run residential schools.
- 13 children who had dropped out of school were re-enrolled back to school.
- Child marriages of over 49 girls were averted and they have continued their education.
- 510 girls were oriented on child rights specific laws in 8 schools of 12 villages.
- 86 adolescent girls from adolescent collectives were also oriented on child protection laws.
- Ensured immunization of 1610 children (776 boys and 834 girls) and 378 pregnant women.
- Identified 24 malnourished children through Anganwadi source and enrolled them in Anganwadi centers.
- Re-enrolment campaign in all operational villages were taken up by involving children, school teachers, Community Based Organization (CBO) members, ICDS teachers & ANMs.
Class 8 student Renuka Madhar from Donwad village, Chikkodi taluk, Belguam district, Karnataka, India was forced to drop out of school and get married. But Renuka wanted to continue her education. The team at CRY America supported project, Mahila Abhivrudhi Mattu Samrakshana Samasthe (MASS) who works in her village heard of Renuka’s plight in the community meetings. They met her parents to convince them to put off plans to get Renuka married till she reaches the legal age for marriage and let her complete her education. CRY America supports MASS with a special focus on the girl child and works at addressing all forms of girl child rights violations like female infanticide, female feticide, violence, abuse and harassment. MASS partners with community members to encourage them to treat the girl child with dignity and respect and ensure she enjoys her basic rights. Renuka is now back in school and plans of becoming a doctor
Belgaum district is mapped highly critical on child protection issues. MASS has done in-depth programming on protection issues – child marriage and child trafficking issues. MASS as an organisation has played a pivotal role in eliminating Devdasi system in Belgaum.
 Protection: Child Marriage & Child Trafficking
Focus 1: To build a protective environment in 20 villages of Chikodi taluk in Belgaum district to ensure children in general and girls in particular are protected from violence, abuse and exploitation manifested in the forms of child marriage and child trafficking
- Detailed child rights violation case study & documentation on children married between the age group of 16-20 years in the operational area.
- Sensitisation of local community, adolescent girls’ groups, women’s collectives and local Panchayats against child marriage.
- Tracking of 101 girls (30 girls in age 9-14years, 71 girls in 15-18 years) + 109 boys (43 boys in 9-14 years & 66 boys in 15-18 years) susceptible to child marriage and other forms of vulnerability.
- Develop understanding on status of child trafficking in the operational area, especially the linkages between missing children, child marriages and trafficking.
- Strengthen the community safety net for adolescent girls and children with a view to protect them from getting trafficked.
- Activate anti-trafficking committees at different levels upto the district level - ensure identification of trafficking cases and intervention in such cases through these committees.
- Trainings of child rights workers and the local community on issues related to protection, especially trafficking related issues and how to intervene in such cases.
- Conduct re-enrolment campaign in all the 8 panchayat areas, mobilise community to monitor functioning of active schools and prevent closure of schools.
- 2 villages to have active VCPC [Village Child Protection Committee] and capacity building for CPC members.
- Identifying unreported cases of missing children and fact finding on cases of child trafficking with Criminal Justice System and District Child Protection Unit, Childline and The State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR).
- Collaboration with government, police, teachers, Child Welfare Committee, state homes, reception centres and other government bodies for rescue and rehabilitation.
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