Karuna Trust

Our vision is of a world without prejudice, in which every human being has the opportunity to fulfil their potential, regardless of their background or beliefs. We aim to do this by challenging the ignorance and prejudice that trap people in poverty.
Jul 31, 2012

Why is India so bad for women?

Dear supporters,

I thought that this week, as well as posting a story from the project, I could also bring attention to this article which was doing the rounds in the office last week. It makes for quite interesting reading, and highlights why the work of Dr Mune and her team is so crucial in India.

"...a survey that caused indignation in India last month: a poll of 370 gender specialists around the world that voted India the worst place to be a woman out of all the G20 countries. It stung – especially as Saudi Arabia was at the second-worst. But the experts were resolute in their choice. "In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour," said Gulshun Rehman, health programme development adviser at Save the Children UK, who was one of those polled.

Look at some statistics and suddenly the survey isn't so surprising. Sure, India might not be the worst place to be a woman on the planet – its rape record isn't nearly as bad as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for instance, where more than 400,000 women are raped each year, and female genital mutilation is not widespread, as it is in Somalia. But 45% of Indian girls are married before the age of 18, according to the International Centre for Research on Women (2010); 56,000 maternal deaths were recorded in 2010 (UN Population Fund) and research from Unicef in 2012 found that 52% of adolescent girls (and 57% of adolescent boys) think it is justifiable for a man to beat his wife. Plus crimes against women are on the increase: according to the National Crime Records Bureau in India, there was a 7.1% hike in recorded crimes against women between 2010 and 2011 (when there were 228,650 in total). The biggest leap was in cases under the "dowry prohibition act" (up 27.7%), of kidnapping and abduction (up 19.4% year on year) and rape (up 9.2%).

A preference for sons and fear of having to pay a dowry has resulted in12 million girls being aborted over the past three decades, according to a 2011 study by the Lancet.

A glance at the Indian media reveals the range of abuse suffered by the nation's women on a daily basis. Today it was reported that a woman had been stripped and had her head shaved by villagers near Udaipur as punishment for an extramarital affair. Villagers stoned the police when they came to the rescue. In Uttar Pradesh, a woman alleged she was gang raped at a police station – she claimed she was set on by officers after being lured to the Kushinagar station with the promise of a job.

Last Wednesday, a man in Indore was arrested for keeping his wife's genitals locked. Sohanlal Chouhan, 38, "drilled holes" on her body and, before he went to work each day, would insert a small lock, tucking the keys under his socks. Earlier this month, children were discovered near Bhopal playing with a female foetus they had mistaken for a doll in a bin. In the southern state of Karnataka, a dentist was arrested after his wife accused him of forcing her to drink his urine because she refused to meet dowry demands.

In June, a father beheaded his 20-year-old daughter with a sword in a village in Rajasthan, western India, parading her bleeding head around as a warning to other young women who might fall in love with a lower-caste boy."

Read the full article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/23/why-india-bad-for-women

Jul 30, 2012

Project Expansion and Update

Dear Supporters,

I am happy to update you with some exciting new developments in the last months. Due to the success of the 'Child Rights' model utilized by our project partners NISD, we applied for and have received funding from the UK Government  (Department for International Development) to run an expanded version of this project for 3 three years. DFID are now funding 70% of this expanded project, with Karuna raising the remainder.

Additional elements of the project include:

Supplementary nutrition provided to all children, twice a day.

Books, uniforms and educational materials distributed to the thousand poorest children. 

Community-Led Total Sanitation' programme - raising awareness amongst at least 9,000 people on such issues as water handling, food hygiene and disposal of human and animal waste, and encourage construction and use of toilets and soak pits by at least 2,350 families.

Self-help Groups (SHGs) and Vocational Training - 200 women’s SHG leaders will improve their literacy and financial skills, learn how to access resources and start small businesses. This learning will be shared will 4,000 women. 800 youths will receive training in areas relevant to the local market such as plumbing, electricity, hospital assistance and jewellery making. 

Though the new activities were only recently expanded, the project team have been quick in implementing them. Since April: 

  • A survey has been conducted of all the school children in the locality to establish attendance levels and economic background.
  • 17 new villages identified for the project to be rolled out in and activities commenced.
  • 18 new pre-school centers established and classes started.
  • 25 new study support classes started.
  • Survey of facilities in all the schools in the locality will soon be completed. This will tell us about sanitation, general maintenance, and safety of the facilities.
  • The project is just completing final staff interviews in order to have a full project team.
  • Work at village level has started by meeting with the local parliament and gaining their trust in the project.
  • The school enrollment campaigns have started to encourage parents to send their children to school, including poster campaign and village level awareness meetings.

We wish the project team success with their continuing work, and shall be keeping you updated with the progress.

Thank you, as always, for your support.

Jul 11, 2012

Vimal's New Cow

Vimal Bhagaji Bhoir lives in Bhoirwadi and is a member of Kotamadevi Bachat Gat Self-Help Group. This Group was formed in 2002 as an NISD initiative.  NISD encouraged women to save Rs. 20 from their low income. Vimal was contributing financially to the group fund but could not participate in meetings or activities as she and her husband had to travel very far for work.  She was also not able to spend a decent amount of time with her children. 

An 'Income Generation Scheme' training programme was organized by NISD which Vimal and the other women of the group attended. The trainer gave information on Small Dairy and Cattle rearing, along with other business. Vimal liked the idea as it was possible for her to look after a cow.  However she did not have money to buy a cow. She saved some money and took Rs. 15,500 loan from her Self-Help Group. She bought a cow for Rs. 22,000.  

The cow gave birth to a male calf, and was giving 6 liters of milk.  She was able to repay the loan by selling the milk. The cow has since given birth to 3 more calves, 1 male and 2 female. From the sale of the male calves Vimal received enough money to leveling their land (for which NISD arranged a JCB at a subsidized rate). 

Vimal currently has two cows, and is receiving sizable income from the sale of their milk.  Now her husband and she work on their own field rather going far away to work as wage laborers. The income from the milk has meant Vimal has paid back the loan, and is able to provide for her children's education.  She also gives time to the Self-Help Group which she feels has changed her life so much.  She is now Secretary of Kotamadevi Bachat Gat and encouraging other women to organize themselves into similar Self-Help Groups.

Thanks you for enabling NISD to facilitate such Self-Help Groups within these tribal displaced communities

 
   

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