New Light is a night shelter/creche (care center) that protects young girls, children and women at high risk in one of the oldest red light districts of Kolkata in West Bengal, India. This area houses sex workers from the city and neighboring countries like Nepal and Bangladesh. New Light also operates a home where girls are safe from potential danger. Providing education, health care, legal aid and shelter from the harsh reality of the streets is crucial in changing the course of their lives.
Most of the women engaged in sex work in Kolkata arrived in its red light districts at a very young age through very violent routes of abduction, enticement and exploitation. Force and abuse continue to be used after the young girls have been sold. This malicious cycle takes a devastating toll on their children who often sleep under their mother's beds and wander the streets with no hope for the future.
New Light provides education, nutrition, shelter, life-skill training and healthcare to the children of sex workers. These resources offer a haven and provide opportunities to these young children who would otherwise live on the streets. The creche (shelter) is unique in that it takes children as young as 3 months old and provides the mothers an opportunity to keep their children in the safe custody of caretakers.
The shelter operates in a permanent structure above a temple 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is also used as a drop-in center for all of the children of the community who can come anytime to play with the toys, read, or do school work. These programs for young adolescent girls growing up in the red light district have resulted in the reduction of a large number of young entrants into the sex trade. Education and the work of New Light starts the cycle of a better life.
New York Times report on Urmi Basu and New Light
Village Volunteer Website