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New AssignmentDate: 24/8/2010

Tomorrow I start one of my new assignments. That is because I was supposed to start yesterday, but got monsoon-ed out, and then today schools were closed for a holiday. So my new assignment will take place at three girls' schools. Unlike KGBV where the girls had taken karate before, the girls' school students have had no previous exposure to karate. Additionally, their risk is different - they are considered either ‘untouchable' or below poverty level, so upper-castes feel they can treat them however they want, including taking advantage of them sexually. Although the caste system in India was officially outlawed in 1950, in rural areas such as Bihar it still lives on. India's Untouchables are relegated to the lowest jobs (such as cleaning sewers with their bare hands and disposing of the dead), and live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated, beaten, and raped with impunity by upper-caste Hindus seeking to keep them in their place. Untouchable women and girls are particularly vulnerable. They are frequently raped or beaten as a means of reprisal against male relatives who are thought to have committed some act worthy of upper-caste vengeance. Little or nothing is done to prevent attacks on rape victims by gangs of upper-caste villagers seeking to prevent a case from being pursued. Sometimes the policemen even join in. Rape victims have also been murdered. Such crimes often go unpunished. So the training for these girls will really focus a lot on self defense, with a lot of repetition. I have two weeks to ingrain some instincts into these 100 or so girls; we'll see what happens. As part of this assignment, I have also been tasked with producing a list of how girls can identify and avoid predators. It will have to be translated, but I think even the girls having this little bit of knowledge could give them an edge in surviving in their high risk environments. Lastly, I will be creating a list of recommendations of what additional and ongoing activities might aid in empowering these young ladies to seek high goals and become leaders in their communities. In a nutshell, I'm going to be very busy over the next two weeks, but I'm very happy to be. All I have to do is think about my experience at KGBV, and of the two young girls singing their equality song, and suddenly I'm not so tired. : ) Thanks for reading about my journey. Stayed tuned over the nex few weeks for more updates on the progress here in Bihar.

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