PRAJWALA

Prajwala is an anti-trafficking organization working for the welfare of women and children who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation. As prostitution is a form of sexual slavery, Prajwala believes in preventing women and children from entering this trade. Prajwala works with the conviction that, to break the walls of learnt helplessness that a victim of sexual exploitation develops, a multi pronged approach is necessary.
Nov 28, 2014

MALE DEMAND-CAN WE COUNTER IT?

Participants signing Petition against the Demand!
Participants signing Petition against the Demand!

In India there is a huge disparity in data about an exact number of women and children in commercial sexual exploitation due to the variations and modus operandi of sex trade. In 2009 the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India predicted an approximate of 3 million of which 40 percent are children. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) nearly 1,80,000 children and more than 1,50,000 women were reported ‘missing’ of which one-third still remains untraced during the period 2008-2011. A startling fact is that 64% of the total children who remains untraced are minors. The numbers above is really upsetting when it crosses anyone’s mind that if there are 2-8 million women/children in sex trade demanded by a minimum of 10 customers a day, then the total number of service demanding men in a single day will be 20-80 million. And what is the state of mind of the men who only demands children? Is it because the children’s has poor understanding of sexuality and sex that can be easily exploited? Or is it the stumpy self-confidence of the men when he has sex with an adult?

Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation accounts for 58% of all the trafficking cases globally, and approximately 80% in India. Commercial Sexual Exploitation is a demand-driven phenomenon, made possible by traffickers, sold to the brothels and bought by the ‘customers’ as per the requirements. Vulnerability is an added factor that makes women and children easy targets for being trafficked. In most of the times the social economic conditions makes them defenceless and fairly low risk of recognition. Children are more exposed to sexual exploitation as they are not matured enough or legally empowered to make their own choices.

The sexual exploitation of women, especially girl children, depends on the demand. It is a known actuality that flesh trade cannot be wiped out until men stop demanding ‘services’. These demands are high in specific areas which in turn are the gateways for the development of red light areas across the borders. Many of the time the silence and non-involvement of the public also encourage the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children. It is in this regard that Prajwala’s active department, Community Based Prevention Program implemented an effectual campaign called Men Against Demand (MAD). The program has been delivering first-rate responses from the public as well as the law enforcements since its implementation in 2007.

The campaign involves gathering the attention of the public in the first place and then it moves onto involving the ‘common’ men and encourage them to change the collective opinions. The speeches, movies, as well as posters and handouts shown during the campaign questions the common assumptions, believes and other superstitions which are the root causes of the demand.

The documentaries and other survivor statements question the morals of the public gathered with regard to the existence of flesh trade and its direct indication with demand. The campaign has also resulted in several thousands of Community Vigilant Groups (CVGs) to fight sex-trafficking alongside with Prajwala. With an average of 150 campaigns an year, it has been able to gather 242,981 participants, 2630 CVGs and 2,19,799 signatures since 2007. 

Gathering the Public near a bus station!
Gathering the Public near a bus station!

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Sep 8, 2014

Preventing trafficking at the grassroots

Students listening closely to a Prajwala Talk
Students listening closely to a Prajwala Talk

The following is a postcard from Neeharika Tummala, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in India and Bangladesh, about her recent visit to PRAJWALA.

As part of the holistic effort in the fight against sex trafficking, Prajwala also does the tough work of community awareness where the Prajwala program team travels to various districts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to speak to young girls about how trafficking happens, how it can happen to anyone and why they need to be careful.

I had the incredible opportunity to travel with the program team to see what it is like and how they do it. The district we went to was the East Godavari district, a place that is green and beautiful with lush coconut fields. It is also the district with one of the highest rates of trafficking, so it is even more important to reach these girls. I learned that this state is also a spot for a lot of film shootings, due to its lush greenery, and has seen the rise of junior tv artists as well as film actors. So a common way of trafficking girls has been luring them in with the promise of opportunities in media.  

Regardless, the Prajwala team is armed with great videos, personal stories and passionate speakers, who work to grab the attention of these girls and hopefully infuse them with caution. I closely observed girls at 6 schools and hostels. They usually start off with lots of excitement as to them it is just a break from their usual school or hostel routine. But eventually as the context of the video starts to set in, the expressions of these young girls faces change to seriousness, sadness, shock and even disgust, as they digest the journey of innocent girls and how they are forced to transform in the red light districts. While the videos are impactful, easily the best part is the personal account of one of the survivors who was brave enough to recount her personal story. Her story, delivery and bravery were so incredible that I had goosebumps, and I think so did many girls in that audience. After her presentation, we had tons to girls come up to her to shake her hand and thank her for her story. It was a beautiful moment.   

The team also invites local press members to attend and hopefully cover it in their local newspaper, so that the news spreads across the district and they have more geographic coverage. 

Another incredible program that I got to witness is the Men Against Demand (MAD) awareness program. It involves literally putting a projector in crowded areas such as bus stands and markets, so as to gather the attention of a crowd and do a presentation. The presentation is gripping and requires engaging the crowd with a lot of confidence and passion, as the crowd includes people like rickshaw drivers, drunkards and people who can even become violent. Luckily we had a pretty good crowd with us and it was amazing to see the Prajwala team tackle such sensitive topics so openly. 

Post video discussion
Post video discussion
Signing up a Prajwala Volunteer Group
Signing up a Prajwala Volunteer Group
Listening closely
Listening closely
Reflecting after seeing the video
Reflecting after seeing the video
Taking the Prajwala oath
Taking the Prajwala oath
Jun 20, 2014

Justice & Protection for Exploited Children

Children enjoying their exposure trip!
Children enjoying their exposure trip!

In Prajwala’s shelter home, child victims of rape, incest, sexual exploitation and trafficking are given the opportunity to regain their lost childhoods, restore their shattered innocence and renew their sense of joy and zeal for what life has to offer. The 91 children in Prajwala’s shelter home are like one big family, caring for one another while professionally-trained staff members provide much-needed love and support that many of these children missed while growing up. The multifaceted psychological, physical, and educational needs of the children are addressed in a sensitive and holistic way to ensure their current and future well-being.

The cases of children which Prajwala’s Support Through Education Program (STEP) has been dealing with amount to the most horrific and atrocious human rights violations. In an unspeakable tragedy, one 4 year old girl who was sleeping in a train station with her mother was abducted by a drunken man who took her to a park where he raped her. Her anus was so torn, her intestine so ruptured that she now has constant uncontrollable bowel movements; the multiple surgeries she has undergone have been unable to repair the damage. Another 5 year old child was tied up, sexually tortured by her neighbor who burnt her genitals. One cannot even imagine the suffering, pain and torture that these children experience.

It is the eternal mission and commitment of Prajwala to ensure that child victims have access to rehabilitation, safety and protection from any and all harm. The organization also recognizes that receiving justice is of utmost significance. Thus all children in the shelter home are produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), and letters of recommendation are submitted on their behalf to the district Collector as well as Superintendent of Police so that they can be granted financial compensation from the Women and Child Welfare department as well as court magistrates as per stipulations in Protection of Children against Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act.

Based on Prajwala’s determination to provide dignified and sustainable opportunities for children who have experienced the worst kind of exploitation, there have been many successes over the past 3 months which everyone in the shelter has celebrated. To begin, there were 6 children admitted in to the home this period. All child survivors enrolled in mainstream schools received 100% pass marks on their annual exams! One student in intermediate 1st year obtained District 2nd rank and another studying in government school got 1st place out of all students in 10th class! The children also greatly enjoyed exposure trips Lumbini Park and Public Gardens.

In terms of advocacy efforts to advance the anti-trafficking cause, in a landmark judgment based on the recommendations of Prajwala, the Honorable High Court of Andhra Pradesh has directed the State Government to arrange video conferencing facilities to record evidence of sex-trafficked victims. The District Legal Services Authority of each district has been directed to hold this facility in their premises. In addition, in collaboration with legal services, Prajwala filed 1 Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme court and 3 PIL in different states on rape redressal system, national anti-trafficking law, protection services and victim protection protocol. 

Based on the generous contributions of supporters and well-wishers, Prajwala has been able to make an impact not only on the lives of hundreds of victimized and exploited children, but has also promoted substantial changes in the judicial and legal systems of state and national governments to combat human trafficking in all of its dimensions. We wish to extend our deepest gratitude to all of you who have stood by us in solidarity as we break the culture of silence and create a zero tolerance against this crime. Together, we can continue to ignite the flame of hope to bring light to those in despairing circumstances and work towards creating a world free of modern-day slavery.

 

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