In 2012 Cheryl had the privilege of joining 50 women from around the world to climb Africa's highest mountain - Kilimanjaro - on behalf of sexually trafficked women and children. One of the most impactful parts of that journey for Cheryl was meeting the incredible women who were advocating alongside her - many who had dedicated their lives to helping exploited women.
One of those exceptional people was Jeevaline Kumar who Cheryl was shocked to realize she had met in India years before. She is a tireless advocate for some of the most oppressed women in Indian society and she joined Cheryl to speak about her experiences with the Dalit women.
India has been declared the fourth most dangerous country in the world to live in for women and children. Jeevaline works with not only oppressed women to empower them, but Dalit women as well. These women live in utter poverty and are considered untouchable, even lower than dogs. 90 percent of the women that are trafficked in the country are Dalits.
Jeevaline's involvement with the Dalit women is focusing on trafficking prevention initiatives, working with the local government. They work to give an environment where they can have easy access to education, marketable skills and health care. There are also shelters for the women who are rescued out of trafficking where they can gain skills, are given counselling and are able to eventually come out of the oppression and exploitation that they have faced.
Devadasi are girls that are dedicated to a life of service and are married off to the temple goddess. Their life of service becomes a life of servicing men - up to twenty men a day, once she has hit puberty. These girls are told that service unto to god is service unto men. Today ex Devadasi women who are done servicing men are now focusing on the next generation and acting as watch dogs through the different villages to watch and protect girls that are going to be dedicated to the temple. In the last couple of years there has been no dedications in the 100 villages they have adopted. These women are learning the powerful truth that servicing men is exploitation and that there is a God that loves them and they are created in the image of God.
For more information visit: dalitfreedom.ca