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#111 – Phase 2: A Multi-Level Approach to Protect Vulnerable Women

Summary of the Situation

Growing social deprivation of women in Bangalore, India is manifested by their lack of opportunity to have a personal identity and education, being socially ostracized, and totally dependent on the decisions of their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons, as they move from one stage of their life to another. Among the most vulnerable are children at-risk for human trafficking, migrants, destitute women and a growing population of transgender people suffering persecution.
Unemployment has become one of the most pressing problems in the country leading to numerous additional problems like drug abuse, insurgency, and other anti-social behaviours. One of the many reasons for unemployment can be attributed to the education system in the country and lack of opportunities in the region, especially for girls and women.
Bangalore, the capital and largest city of the southern Indian state of Karnataka, has many slums where the poor live in destitute poverty. It is a destination place for migrants who come and search for work, and a gathering place for the transgendered population.

How will the funds be used?

Funds will pay for stipends for 3 sisters, a professional tailoring trainer, 6 barefoot teachers, one part-time accountant, and one occasional driver. Materials and needed machines and training costs for skills training and business start-up costs.

The Sisters’s Response 

In Karnataka, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon have 3 houses where we provide services. One serves the needs of education and is a base for community organizing for social justice. Another is where we house migrants and orphan children. The last house is for our clinic where our doctor sister provides medicines and outpatient medical care. We knew we needed to do more. So, we conducted a needs assessment.
During our needs assessment of 15 slums/villages of Karnataka, we sisters understood that there is no dignity for the transgenders, slum women and children in this area. We understood the severity of human trafficking and the need for future intervention. Unsafe migration leading to human trafficking and other forms of exploitations have affected countless jobless youths as they have migrated without any precautionary measures. We found that unemployment is one of the most pressing problems leading to numerous additional problems like drug abuse, insurgency, and other anti-social behaviors.
In India, transgender as a third gender was legally identified in the country less than a decade ago. They are called by different names, the most common being HIJRA (meaning, belonging to neither gender). During our assessment we shared their pain at being shunned by their own families, often beaten up, humiliated and said to be a disgrace in the family. Many were forced to leave their “home” at an early age. Out in the society, the struggle takes a more dangerous toll being victims of rape, social violence and discrimination, not having the family, police, law or judiciary to protect them. Even worse is the fact that they are excluded from the labour market and have to rely on begging or sex work to make a living.
Transgender people had a special role in the Hindu mythology which gave hijras the power to bless or curse others. The Victorian England colonization changed the affairs, considering them abnormal and even mentally ill. This in turn affected the reputation and wellbeing of these people and continue to affect even now. Today transgenders can be seen dressed in glittering sarees and heavy, cheap makeup on trains or in heavy traffic of the metropolitan cities begging for money and giving blessings. They go to weddings and birth ceremonies to bless, and receive money in return.
Based on what we have learned from our needs assessment, we propose replicating our community outreach programs which have been very successful in lifting the poor in the rural area of Tamil Nadu out of poverty.

Systemic Impact 

Unemployment for the most vulnerable people is the root cause we will address. This can be done through skill training for vulnerable people and helping them start their small business. We will provide a space for production as well as classroom space. Loss of academic progress due to COVID, frustrations with inadequate schools, and decreasing educational opportunity, especially for girls has increased student drop-out rates. By providing 6 tutors in 6 slum area schools, youth will have a better opportunity to succeed in school and have better employment opportunities, thus decreasing poverty.

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