ASSET India Foundation has identified two reputable organization in the state of Karnataka that rehabilitate and educate the children of devadasis. In order to prevent the children from entering the flesh trade, ASSET will be providing laptop computers and digital educational content through iEinstein.org founded by well known Silicon Valley entrepreneur Kamran Elahian. The same program will also be offered in two additional locations in Kolkata.
The practice of Devadasi, meaning ‘a woman who serves god’, is an ancient Indian custom by which a girl is ceremoniously dedicated or married to a deity or to a temple to serve the goddess Yellamma. Traditionally Devadasis had a particular status in their community but over recent years the practice has been made illegal and has degenerated so that low-caste girls are being exploited and abused in the sex industry.
The Devadasi practice of serving the goddess Yellamma has been exploited so that dedicated girls are expected, once they reach puberty, to serve the goddess by having sexual relations with men for money in their community. The girls are also extremely vulnerable to being sold or trafficked into urban brothels in Bombay, New Delhi, or other main cities. The custom is illegal but the practice continues. This child abuse and exploitation is always and unequivocally wrong. Articles 34 and 35 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child require states to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.
Grinding poverty and lack of opportunities for Madiga families from the lowest caste can lead desperate parents to resort to dedicating their children to serve as Devadasi. The caste system plays a key role in both the corrupted Devadasi system and trafficking of girls into the sex industry. The practice is historically related to the worship of deities particular to the lower, Madiga caste. Extreme poverty and routine discrimination experienced by Madiga families further increase the risk of dedication. Parents who have no male children sometimes dedicate one of their daughters so she will be able to care for them in their old age. Women who have been widowed, or who are living with HIV dedicate their daughters as Devadasis if they struggle to support them or anticipate difficulty with marriage prospect is not uncommon for the female children of Devadasi women to be dedicated as Devadasis themselves, repeating the cycle.
The impact on girls is extreme. Most Devadasi girls are separated from their families at a very young age and are forced to work in the sex industry at abysmally low wages which increases their vulnerability to trafficking, malnutrition and infection of HIV/AIDS.
ASSET has been invited to apply for a $50,000 grant to fund the above projects.
At the invitation of Professor Tom Kosnik (Fenwick and West Consulting Professor, Stanford Technology Ventures Program,), ASSET India Foundation submitted the Forbesgunj BPO proposal (attached) to the Global Entrepreneurship Marketing (GEM) course.
The formal presentation was made by me on January 11th at Stanford. There were 31 presenters from companies including Intel, Ericsson and others. Student teams had to slect their top three projects and ASSET was selected in the first round itself and the kick off meeting was held on Monday January 15th. The team consisting of four students will develop a detailed marketing plan for the ASSET BPO in Forbesgunj, offering IT services to Indian and multi national companies operating in India. The completed plan will be used for fundraising purposes as well.
Several student leaders who were present at the presentation have invited ASSET India Foundation for fundraising events on the Stanford campus.
Senior managent at Cisco in San Jose, California have invited ASSET India Foundation to make a presentation at a fundraiser in February 2013.
ASSET is being considered for inclusion as one of the charities to benefit from a mobile game playing contest.
In view of the horrifying rape in Delhi, we will investigate the opportunity to help change men's attitudes towards women by recruiting boys who are children of sex workers. Thus far, we focused entirely on recruiting only girls and admitted boys as and when space permitted
ASSET India Foundation is building a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) center in Forbesgunj, Bihar- close to the India Nepal border. This center will train and employ 100 girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking, children of sex workers and vulnerable girls.
1. The girls will be paid 2000 Rupees per month during the six month training.
2. After training, they will be employed by ASSET partner Ruralshores at 4,200 Rupees per month.
3. Infosys Foundation has donated 100 desk top computers for this project
4. Desi Power is designing a 50 KW Biomass power plant which will use rice husk and wood chips as fuel
5. Desi Power is also designing the center which will which will house the 100 computers.
6. Gates Foundation is interested in using this center for training their field healthcare workers.
7. Insurance and other companies will utilize this center for their document processing.
8. A total of $100,000 ( $50,000 each for the construction of the center and the power plant) has to be raised by ASSET by December 15, 2012.
A special thanks to the donors at GlobalGiving, without whom we would not be able to provide a new life for these girls.
I am very pleased that Lumos Labs, creator of Lumosity (www.lumosity.com) has agreed to partner with ASSET to do a pilot with their highly acclaimed LEAP program. Please see link below:
http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110411005703/en/Lumosity-Launches-LEAP-Enhance-Children’s-Education-AccelerateThe program was developed by scientists at Stanford, Columbia, UCSF, Berkeley and Harvard. I believe access to Lumosity will bring tremendous exposure to our work.
We received a donation of 20 desktops and accessories from FirstSource in bangalore. These computers will be used in the new ASSET center in Hubli, Karnataka.
Jim Emerman, Executive Vice President, Civic Ventures has nominated me to be a speaker at the 2013 TED Conference in Long Beach, CA.
The issues that caused cancellation of classes at Prajwala, our partner in Hyderabad have been resolved and the English Helper program training will commence on May 20, 2012.
At our Delhi center, English Helper program was started in February 2012 with 20 female students, all children of sex workers. This center is managed by our partner Apne Aap. Due to some misunderstanding, mothers pulled the girls out of the English Helper classes and only three students are in attendance, We are working diligently to address the problem and get the girls back in the class.
My sincere thanks to all the donors who continue to support our work with their regular monthly contributions
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