THE FREEDOM CHALLENGE
Freedom Challenge Leads Groundbreaking
Anti-Human Trafficking Law Approval
Protecting 200,000 Women & Children
In Top Slavery Area
Thanks to the Atlanta-based Freedom Challenge, life-transforming legislation for more than 200,000 women and children is being enforced in one of the world’s high human-trafficking area centers. It has taken 27 years for the government to officially pass enforcement and education of a law preventing what’s known as temple dedication– ritualized prostitution of Joginis/Devadasi/Dalits in a Southern India area called the Andhra Pradesh State. Over the last days, the Andhra Pradesh State Government established groundbreaking rules enabling the enforcement of the law called the Prohibition of Dedication Act.
The Public Interest Litigation calling for this long overdue action was filed in 2012 by a Freedom Challenge initiative “Pratigya” Anti-Human Trafficking Unit in India.
“The enforcement of this law is a giant step towards ending human trafficking in this high trade area. The Freedom Challenge’s years of tireless efforts to get this law enforced are making an impact and we applaud the State Government for taking this important action that will deliver transformation for the women and children of this area,” says Tina Yeager, Freedom Challenge US Director. Writing these rules for the Prohibition of Dedication Act is a legislative victory that will positively alter the daily lives and future for the area’s 200,000 women and children.
“Our initiative has stopped and prevented approximately 2,220 dedications over the last 2 ½ years. As difficult as this is to comprehend, prior to this groundbreaking action, law enforcement officials were often unaware of the law. The only actions tackling it relied solely on non-governmental agencies and other organizations, such as The Freedom Challenge supported group,” says Yeager.
Joginis/Devadasis exist in a belt across Southern India where ritualized prostitution remains a reality. Young women falling victim to this practice are generally from Scheduled Caste (low caste) and Dalit backgrounds. Dedicated to the role as pre-teens, their duties involve dancing to bestow good luck and giving sexual favors to men. The practice’s causative factors include poverty, illiteracy, lack of awareness, desperate conditions, varying moral value systems, and insufficient rehabilitation programs. A minimum 200,000 girls have been dedicated into this practice in a four-state area.
The rules also require the state government to stipulate relief and rehabilitation measures for victims including basic needs such as:
- The right to legally marry, a right to which they have been deprived.
- The right for Jogini children to list a father’s name officially on their birth certificate, enabling the family to access benefits and enrollment in school.
- Economic assistance
- Free education for their children
THE FREEDOM CHALLENGE BACKGROUND
The Freedom Challenge supports anti-Human Trafficking work globally. Working in more than 100 villages in Southern India, The Freedom Challenge projects empower and educate Joginis. Formed in 2010, the Freedom Challenge’s “Pratigya” Anti-Human Trafficking Unit responds to the problems associated with the Jogini system, helping raise awareness of the system and acting as watchdogs to prevent dedications-prostitution. They also fund monthly medical camps for Jogini women and provide housing and education for Jogini children. The Freedom Challenge’s work also extends to social and health projects.
ABOUT THE FREEDOM CHALLENGE
The Freedom Challenge is a movement of passionate women dedicated to freeing oppressed and enslaved women and children all around the world. Hundreds of women have participated in physical challenges to date that test personal limits, while raising funds and awareness of modern day slavery in order to fund programs that help set women and children on the pathway to freedom. Operation Mobilization (OM) is the founding organization for The Freedom Challenge. OM is an international Christian missions organization that has been confronting injustice for over 50 years. As a collective of over 6,800 workers in over 118 countries around the world, OM teams do not sit still and love the adventure of serving Jesus through their relationships, compassion, and conversations.
More details can be found at www.thefreedomchallenge.com