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NGO to work with Devadasis

“Civil society needs towork with the Government to bringDevadasisinto the mainstream,”Satish Jarkiholi, MLA and founder of Manava Bandhutva Vedike,an NGO, said in Gokak on Friday.

“We should all be dedicated towards eradicating this social evil. Society should drop the stigma attached to Devadasis and the Government should help them enter other professions by giving them skill training and easy loans to take up small businesses,” he said.

He was speaking after inaugurating a multi-skill centre and community hall of Shakti Aids Control Association in Gokak.

The former Minister stressed that Devadasis had to shed blind belief attached to the systemand develop a modern outlook.He said MBVwould work with organisationsthat would organise Devadasisand commercial sex workers,and help them turn entrepreneurs or skilled workers.

Mr. Jarkiholi recalled the contribution of B.L. Patil, Athani-based advocate and founder of Vimochana NGO that is engaged in Devadasi welfare. He also credited Lalitha Hosmani who was engaged in organising Devadasis and commercial sex workers andLeela Sampige, activist and academician, who has worked with commercial sex workers for decades.Dr. Sampigehelped Devadasis and commercial sex workers organise themselves andset up a centre for multi-skill training and entrepreneurship, he said. He said that B.K. Hariprasad, MLC, had allocated funds from his local area development grants to set up the centre.

Mr. Hariprasad expressed concern that crimes against women were onthe rise across the country.

“A recent study has indicated that over 11,000 women have gone missing from Chhatttisgarh in the last 15 years. Similar is the situation in Jharkhand. The condition of women is not very different in other parts of the country. They are pushed into commercial sex work, slave trade, human trafficking, and other evil practices. There are no systems and processes to ensure their uninterrupted education and employment,’’ Mr. Hariprasad said.

He criticised the BJP Governments at the Centre and the State for their “utter neglect” towards the problems of women and youth. He accused the BJP of diverting the attention of the people away from real issues such as poverty, unemployment, and price rise.“The economy is collapsing and people are finding it difficult to stay alive. But the ruling party is speaking of irrelevant issues such as anti-conversion Bills and beef ban.The BJP Governments are also targeting minority communities. The Union Government has frozen the accounts of established welfare NGOs such as the Missionaries of Charity who have helped thousands of destitute and the poor,’’ he said.

Dr. Sampige said this was the first such centre in the country. “It will help women who have suffered ridicule, insult, and abuse for decades, turn into self-reliant employees and entrepreneurs,’’ she said.

She said that the centre would start short-term and long-term skill training courses and entrepreneurship development programmes.

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