Anti-Slavery Day and the #JustTell10 Campaign

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Courtesy of Dalit Freedom Network Courtesy of Dalit Freedom Network

Ahead of Anti-Slavery Day (18 October), author David Skivington tells us in the blog why he's using his new novel, 'Blessed, Bound and Broken' and the #JustTell10 campaign, to raise awareness of the Jogini system in which Dalit women and girls are forced into ritual sex slavery today, in modern India. This is explored in our current exhibition, Broken Lives,  in partnership with the Dalit Freedom Network. David writes:

"There are times in life when you see something and you simply cannot remain silent.

"While in Andhra Pradesh, India, I visited a project who worked with Devadasi girls and it had a profound impact on me. Here I learned of girls, often no more than 7 or 8, who are dedicated to the temple, becoming 'Jogini' or 'Devadasi'- servants of the goddess. When they later hit puberty, their duty was to ‘service’ any man who wanted them as an act of worship. A very moving exhibition about this can be seen at Liverpoool's International Slavery Museum.

"I can still picture the tears in the eyes of Anitha*, a local woman, as she explained how she had come to work with the Jogini women. Previously a nurse, she had encountered a disproportionately large number of women in one area all suffering from HIV. When Anitha asked one lady how she had contracted the virus the woman held up the red and white beads around her neck; those given in the Jogini dedication ceremony. After that moment Anitha decided to spend her life trying to prevent girls ending up in such a situation.

Courtesy of Dalit Freedom Network Courtesy of Dalit Freedom Network

"Anitha and other women like her work tirelessly to alert girls to their rights, as well as providing shelter and education for girls permitted by their mothers to attend school. After seeing this vital work I felt that I couldn’t return home silent, so I set about writing a novel to raise awareness on the life that Jogini’s would often end up living. After much research, Blessed, Bound and Broken was published, a story of three very different women whose lives intertwine around a Jogini dedication service.

"Even on publication of the book, I felt that more should be done to support this cause. The #JustTell10 campaign was born out of a meeting with my publisher and Why Marketing, a Leeds-based agency. Our mission is three-fold; encouraging people to share the story of the Devadasi with 10 others, to hit an audacious target of 1 million free downloads of Blessed, Bound and Broken during Anti-Slavery week, and to raise enough money for 10 vulnerable girls to receive an education, safety, food and shelter towards a brighter future.

"Blessed, Bound and Broken will be available for free download on Kindle between 17th and 21st October. Please click here for your free copy, to learn more, to share our message and to donate.

"I hope that this is something about which you too cannot remain silent".

Discover more about our Broken Lives: slavery in modern India exhibition, open until 11 December 2016 

*Name changed

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