It was in 1995 and against the backdrop of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, that we undertook a study on violence against women. The study was designed as part of a campaign for strengthening women’s rights, resisting violence against women and promoting their political participation. Bandhavi, a short stay home for women in distress was a result of this study. It was initially conceptualized to support and shelter the victims of domestic violence, a place where women could gather the strength to heal themselves and rebuild their lives. Bandhavi offered legal counsel, medical care, physiological and moral support as well as vocational training. These, we hoped, would empower women to move forward in life. Soon Bandhavi transitioned into a programme for ‘Girls at Risk’. This shift was a natural evolution of our commitment towards marginalized communities; the dalits and the most vulnerable, the Devadasi women and their girl children.
Inaugurated on 10th December 2005, on International Human Rights Day, Bandhavi initiated a small step towards restoring the rights of young girls from North Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh largely belonging to Dalit community. The program supports the girls build a positive sense of self, raises consciousness about multiple injustices, equips them to engage with society and develops their leadership skills. Currently there are 151 children directly benefitting from the project including the children in Samagara Shikshana Shale (SSS), the primary school on the campus which is a component of the project. Bandhavi is supported by Kindernothilfe (KNH), Germany.