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Kabaddi: a sport that empowers girls in India

Tdh’s Kabbadi project uses this traditional male dominated sport to empower and raise migrant girls’ confidence to make safer choices, so they can create a future they want to lead, which is void of child marriage, gender-based violence and trafficking.

For migrant families in West Bengal, the risk of sexual abuse and trafficking is especially high and child marriage remains common practice. We use Kabaddi, a traditional male-dominated sport, to empower adolescent girls and young women from 60 migrant communities.

Poverty pushes families to migrate and settle in slums where often there are no facilities for sanitation and safe drinking water. These conditions increase the violence and discrimination against girls and young women in a context of patriarchal social values. Many cannot go to school and are instead sent to beg or work. Traffickers work by convincing girls to run away in search of a ‘good life in the city’ and marry them afterwards. Many end up in situations of domestic violence or in prostitution.

Preventing gender-based violence and unsafe migration through sport

Through our partner Praajak, we provide regular activities for girls to play Kabaddi and to be informed on gender issues. Through these activities, we encourage the girls’ life skills, participation and independence. In addition, we link the girls and their families to available support services.

Tdh and Praajak jointly organise discussions with parents, local clubs and child protection actors to promote Kabaddi as a protection and empowerment tool.

The project also strengthens support networks and mechanisms for girls and boys at risk of trafficking and unsafe migration, by holding workshops with local child protection committees on gender-based violence and with teachers on unsafe migration, early marriage and trafficking related issues so that they can better track girls and boys dropping out of school and refer children and families to support services.

The first annual league took place

 The First Annual Kabaddi League was organised on 16th January 2020 in Kolkata with six teams from three towns. It was attended by key stakeholders including State government ministers. The next annual league will be held in January 2021.

“Before I started playing Kabaddi, I felt I had no value.”

Hasina, participated in the Kabaddi project

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Watch our video about the Kabaddi project

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