Village Service Trust supports partners in India who work with grassroots organisations of poor rural women, Dalits, tribal people, people living with HIV and Aids and others confronting poverty, violence and injustice.
Oppressed, dominated, maltreated, exploited, vulnerable, insecure. All these words could describe the position of women in village India. Brave, feisty, determined, assertive, bold, confident. These words too are true of such women. The difference: the self-help group. VST and its partners support a 20,000-strong women’s movement of self-help group members.
Sometimes it is so humiliatingly pointless you can scarcely believe it – Dalits denied the right to wear shoes, walk in certain public areas or use the same tumblers as others in a teashop. Sometimes it is so brutally ugly you can hardly believe that too – Dalits attacked or even killed for some real or perceived slight, or for daring to challenge the established order.
Anyone can get infected by HIV but not everyone does. The most vulnerable in society are most at risk – such as migrants, those in debt, the lowest in the caste system, the poorest, those least able to avoid unsafe sex, or forced into a situation where they have to sell sex. VST and its partners try to break this alliance of poverty, inequality and disease.