The girls who live in this shelter are so vulnerable, we can’t show their faces. But there are 40 of them, ages 4-15, living in a safe house where they are loved, cared for, and educated in an English-medium school. These girls are the daughters or granddaughters of temple prostitutes (joginis/devadasi), a form of ritualized prostitution still practiced in parts of India today. Vulnerable girls, some as young as 5 years of age, are dedicated to the Hindu goddess of fertility, and once they reach puberty, they are used by priests (and sometimes others) until they are no longer desirable. Then they are cast aside, doomed to a life of poverty and prostitution on the streets. There are an estimated 80,000 temple prostitutes in India today, although the practice is illegal. This life is often generational, meaning that the daughters of temple prostitutes are at highest risk for being dedicated to the temple as well.
But not these girls. Not any more! These girls have hope. Their destiny has been altered. This shelter, operated by our Indian partners, is changing lives and making dreams come true. On a recent visit to India, these girls shared their ambitions with the DFN team. Some wanted to be teachers, some doctors, some engineers. If it were not for this home, these girls would likely suffer the same fate as their mothers and grandmothers. But, thanks to your generous gifts, these girls have been set free!