MASS, An Organisation of former Devadasi Women of Belgaum District, Karnataka

About MASS

Mahila Abhivruddi Mattu Samrakshana Samsthe (MASS) is based in the Belgaum district of the southern Indian state of Karnataka. MASS mainly works with dalit women with a focus on ex-Devadasi women and their children. It is a membership association of ex-devadasi women and was registered as a society in September 1997 under the Karnataka Societies Act of 1960. MASS evolved as part of the withdrawal strategy of the Devadasi rehabilitation projects of Karnataka State Women Development Corporation (KSWDC) and MYRADA with funding support from Oxfam NOVIB. ‘Devadasi’ is an old tradition in some parts of India, wherein a young dalit girl is dedicated to a local deity/goddess and is expected to lead a life in service of the goddess. However, over the centuries these women have been prone to exploitation and discrimination by the society and in some cases, forced into prostitution.

The Goal of MASS

“Checking revival of devadasi system, securing livelihoods, rights and justice for women and children”

Our Achievements

Our Mission

  • To check the revival of the devadasi tradition and its associated rituals in Belgaum District and to support agencies with similar interest in containing the tradition in other devadasi-endemic districts of Karnataka.
  • To ensure that all ex-devadasis, dalits and other vulnerable women are effectively organised in institutional frameworks and MASS as an institution is strengthened to a level where it can independently promote the socio-economic interests of its members.
  • To enable members of MASS and their children to access livelihood resources, social entitlements, and quality education.

What we do

  • Continuous vigilance and awareness to check the revival of devadasi system in the Belgaum district.
  • Support for such initiatives in other districts.
  • Promotion of self-help groups for ex-devadasi women and dalit women who are vulnerable to social and religious exploitation.
  • Financial and technical support – including micro-credit – for improvements of members’ livelihoods.