Bandhavi is a project initiated by Visthar to respond to issues of gender discrimination and social exclusion, especially of girl children of Devadasis. It was launched on December 10th – Human Rights Day – in 2005 at Bangalore. In 2008, a second unit was started and the entire project was moved to Koppal in North Karnataka.

Bandhavi ensures that the children have access to residential care, balanced and nutritional food, health care, gender and social awareness and life skills. The project follows a  rights-based and multi-stakeholder approach and works in collaboration with partner NGOs, CBOs and government departments.  It is currently located in Chikkabidnal village of Koppal District of North Karnataka. Bandhavi has been supported by Kindernot Hilfe (KNH) almost from its inception.  

Stories of Change


The daughter of a Devadasi, Durgarani faced intense pressure to get married when she attained puberty. That’s when a local NGO persuaded her mother to send her to Bandhavi. Durgarani did well in her studies, developed her skills in public speaking and organising. After Bandhavi, she joined college and began volunteering with a local NGO in parallel. Today, Durga is studying for Chartered Accountancy. More importantly, 24-year old Durga is the guide, mentor and supporter for 15 younger girls from nearby villages, who have joined colleges in Hospet town. Durga found them safe places to stay, sought out scholarships for some of them, and checks in on all of them regularly about their education, health and security. Durga took the values she learnt at Bandhavi and began applying it in her daily life and interactions with younger girls from neighbouring villages.



Manjula became a child bride at the age of 11. A year later, she joined Visthar’s Child Rights Sangha in her school. When the group discussed child marriage, she reflected on her condition; she stayed quiet initially. That year she became active in the theatre group set up by the Sanghas. She travelled the length and breadth of the district performing street plays on child labour. A year later, when her in-laws demanded that she be sent to her husband’s house, she called the Child rights co-ordinator and sought help. With the help of the CWC, Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) and UNICEF, Manjula was rescued from her husband’s home. She continued her studies with the support of government schemes. When she was 19, Visthar facilitated Manjula’s reintegration with her own family. She successfully completed her B.Com from a college in Hospet. Today, she is a primary school teacher in Visthar’s Samagra Shikshana Shaale in Koppal, continuing her M.Com over distance education.



Dominant caste hindus of Chudi village have finally opened up the main thoroughfare of Mariyamma‘s village to Madigas. Mariyamma and her friends count that a small step forward; they are determined to push further. Mariyamma’s mother and grandmother were both Devadasis; everyone expected Mariyamma also to follow in their footsteps. A child labourer, she dropped out of school early and worked in the landlord’s fields. At the age of 12, a local NGO encouraged Mariyamma to be enrolled in Visthar’s Bandhavi program. At Bandhavi Mariyamma excelled in theatre, dance, and music. She says she grew in confidence and consciousness those years in Bandhavi. After her schooling, Mariyamma pursued her passion for theatre. Today 26-year old Mariyamma is a theatre activist vocal on issues of caste and gender justice across the state.