Karuna Germany works in India and Nepal, where hundreds of millions of people suffer lives of grinding poverty and oppression, excluded from the region’s economic boom.

The caste system is an ancient form of discrimination that denies people their basic rights and keeps millions trapped in conditions of modern-day slavery.

Those most affected are known as Dalits, literally meaning “broken people”, who are placed outside the caste system on the basis of birth. Considered “impure”, and therefore “untouchable”, they are seen as fit only for the most degrading and humiliating work, such as cleaning out public toilet pits or working in toxic brick-making factories.

Despite the illegality of this so-called “untouchability”, over 200 million people in India and Nepal still suffer the social exclusion and stigma of being born as a Dalit. They are routinely denied access to education, food and the possibility of a dignified existence. Many more are rejected care at hospitals, refused protection by police, all while regular atrocities committed against them are ignored.

Dalit children and women are particularly at risk. More than half of Dalit children drop out before finishing primary school, while women suffer the double discrimination of gender and caste, with most being taken out of school early to be sold into marriage and household service at the cost of their own independence.

This epidemic of exclusion based on caste has existed for centuries. It serves only to widen the ever-growing poverty gap and social and economic progress of millions in South Asia.

Karuna works with community based organisations that are helping thousands of people to escape the hell of poverty and discrimination and take their rightful place in society.

We cooperate closely with the Karuna Trust, London.

Our projects in India

Maitri Network: effectively combating violence against women in India

16 organisations support women who have suffered violence. They train representatives of the police and judiciary to sensitize them to the needs of traumatized women.

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Reducing inequality – for violence free schools

The aim of this project is to strengthen girls and boys against violence, to sensitise teachers and to offer children a protected and successful school time.

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Girls and young women learn to say no

Self-defence courses for young girls and women to strengthen self-confidence and effective practical self-defence (Wenlido) so that they can defend themselves against assaults.

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Uplifting women and girls in eight slums of Nagpur

Health training for adolescents, financial, psychological and legal support for women, and the provision of quality early education enable residents in eight slums to build a better future.

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Dhardo Rimpoche School for children from impoverished families

Parents are often illiterate and unable to provide the financial or familial support needed for their children’s studies.

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„Voice of women“ – access to effective legal services

Our aim is for Dalit and Adivasi women who have been victims of violence so that they can defend themselves and take legal action.

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Vegetable instead of rats for Musahar and Dom communities

Latrine sweepers and rat catchers learn a humane livelihood through the cultivation of vegetables and the workmanship of bamboo.

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Understanding Global Interrelationships – Development Policy in Education on the Example of India and Nepal

On the example of India and Nepal the project aims to sensitise people and organisations in Germany to development policy contexts and issues and to highlight the global responsibility of our society.

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