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#113 – Phase 4: 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 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 behaviors. One of the many reasons for unemployment can be attributed to the education system in the country and the 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?

Year 2 of Stipends for three sisters, three animators, one part-time accountant, and one occasional driver.
Materials and supplies to support meetings

The Sisters’s Response 

In Karnataka, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon have three houses where we provide services. One serves the needs of education and is a base for community organizing for social justice. Another houses migrants and orphan children. The last house is for our clinic, where our doctor’s 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 exploitation has 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. Different names call them, 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 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 labor market and have to rely on begging or sex work to make a living.
Transgender people had a unique role in 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 well-being of these people and continues to affect them even now. Today transgenders can be seen dressed in glittering sarees and heavy, cheap makeup on trains or in heavy traffic in 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 from poverty in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu.

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 small businesses. We will provide a space for production as well as classroom space. Loss of academic progress due to COVID-19, frustrations with inadequate schools, and decreasing educational opportunities, especially for girls, have increased student drop-out rates. By providing six 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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