on the details of
Belgaum district, Karnataka, India.
Thematic Intervention: Protection (Child Marriage, Child Trafficking)
MASS is a very unique organization wherein the leadership is by the women who are most oppressed in society. 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. Shobha Gasthi is the project Holder of MASS. She has faced many discrimination, exploitation, and oppression by the upper caste men of being a Devdasi at a young age. She started to work as a volunteer in the Devadasi Rehabilitation Project since 1996 as part of the Karnataka WDC program. The organisation 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 are common in the district which increases risk of adverse reproductive health consequences as well as other health hazards. Child marriage is a social problem wherein girls are robbed of their childhood, denied their rights to health, education and security. Alcoholism among men, acute poverty, and 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. The oppression / violence against women and girls stem out of patriarchal mindset continue in different manners as in child marriage & child trafficking.
Karnataka stands third in human trafficking - almost 300 girls / women are missing in Karnataka every day i.e. 9000 girls / women per month. . Women from Karnataka constitute 45.6 % forced sex workers trafficked in Mumbai. Girl Child trafficking is rampant in Belgaum, due to the vulnerabilities, helplessness and historical oppression of girls and women. Belgaum has 2 huge transit points for the trafficking route from Belgaum to Goa and Maharashtra.
- 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.
- Preventive programs to be implemented in 20 areas for addressing child marriage through a comprehensive program.
- To ensure fully functional Juvenile Justice (JJ) systems, with specific reference to Child Welfare Committee (CWC), State Juvenile Protection Unit (SJPU), District Child Protection Unit (DCPUs) in 25% in operational districts.
- To ensure in 20 areas, preventive and responsive child trafficking programs are implemented.
MASS has been in partnership with CRY for over 5 years and have demonstrated impact on the field and has proven to be an organization with very strong financials. MASS as an organization has played a pivotal role in eliminating Devadasi system in Belgaum. With Deepening programme approach concerning child marriage, MASS team has proved that they have taken forward the issue of girl child issue. Commitment towards ensuring justice was evident in the follow up for rescue and rehabilitation of girl’s victims of child trafficking. Major achievements in the review period include:
- Team has documented 64 instances of child marriage of girls from 10 villages in the operational area.
- Team also has been able to avert marriage of 3 girls through counselling and sensitization of parents.
- Total 1353 high risk families were identified and team has built confidence in parents.
- On identification of immediate threat of child marriage/trafficking team involved with 247 families for counselling and averted threat posed.
- Mother’s collective meetings have been conducted in 10 villages of the operational area.
- Ten day highly intensive mass awareness on child marriage, trafficking and child labour was carried out by MASS team.
- Team has referred 3 cases to CHILDLINE Belgaum and ensured three children were produced before Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
- With efforts of 21 drop out children (13 girls and 8 boys) was re-enrolled to school.
- MASS team members submitted a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner, Belgaum District, Education department and SCPCR demanding appointment of teachers.
- 25 teachers were appointed across all schools in operational area during the review period.
- The MASS has initiated 7 adolescent collectives. A total of 57 adolescent collective meetings were organized where child protection issues were discussed in detail and adolescent collective members are referring cases to team members.
- 57 adolescent collective meetings were organised in which around 201 adolescent girls regularly participated.
- MASS team members are monitoring, tracking and gathering evidence concerning instances of trafficking, possible hideouts and vulnerable locations for children like market places and certain locations.
- Team has made regular visits to Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in respect to various child rights violations cases, and followed with CWC concerning cases of children rescued from trafficking.
- Team has established links with trafficking rescue organisation like Justice and Care, Odanadi Samsthe and referred 2 victims of child trafficking for rehabilitation.
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 Devadasi system in Belgaum.
Protection: Child Marriage and 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.
- Multi stakeholder round table on Child Marriage (Integrated Child Protection Schemes Religious Leaders, Key Public Influencers) in Belgaum.
- Sensitization about harmful impact of child marriage, risk to girl children, missing girl children, gender imbalance education and patriarchy through family visits, counselling, households level risk assessment.
- Tracking and continuous home visits to high risk families of adolescent girls identified as susceptible for child marriage.
- Organise 15 focussed group discussions on girl child safety and child protection with data and facts pertaining to Child Rights with mother’s collectives, adolescent collective groups.
- Engaging men and boys (brothers) to end child marriage and discrimination against girls/gender based violence through meetings with adolescent boys group, developing Integrated Education for Children (IEC) materials, school level interventions/campaigns with boys/gender sensitization sessions.
- Referrals to Child Protection Mechanism (Child Line, District Child Protection Unit)-Child Welfare Committee (CWC) thereby support in strengthening of Child Protection mechanism in Belgaum.
- Engagement with Gram Panchayats to form Village Level Child Protection Committee (VCPC).
- Awareness on Child Rights and issues concerning trafficking/child marriage among members of children's collective.
- Documenting every incidence of missing children, trafficked girls.
- Creating a confidential database on traffickers including probable traffickers, brothel owners, agents, gharwalis, etc. at all levels in Chikkodi/Belgaum.
- Advocacy Meetings with Police on Girl Child issues, Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU), Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU).
- Identifying unreported cases of missing children in operational area.
- Understand nexus between migration of children and trafficking in the operational area.
- Collaboration with Government stakeholders, community leaders, Teacher capacity building, Child Welfare Committee (CWC), state homes, Reception centres for rescue and rehabilitation.
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