To fight trafficking, Indian groups turn to the experts: survivors

Feb 2, 2019 by

Young women are supporting each other and challenging attitudes that contribute to trafficking. Helping others discover their agency, some say, has helped them rediscover their own.

Sarita Santoshini –

A group including survivors of trafficking meets in India’s North 24 Parganas district for its monthly discussions. There are about 80 such groups in as many villages actively looking into children’s welfare and working to prevent trafficking.

In 2016, as India debated a bill against human trafficking, a group of survivors decided to write to the country’s minister for women, offering their feedback. To their surprise, they heard back. That was the start of Utthan: a collective for survivors. Made up mostly of young women, the group uses the weight of its experiences to help others escape and rehabilitate – and to prevent trafficking in the first place. Groups like Utthan assist other survivors through the difficult readjustment, in communities where formal support is often lacking. But members are also changing underlying attitudes about girls that lead to so many being sold – and some say their work has changed their own attitudes, too. Tumpa Khatun married soon after her rescue and felt too stigmatized and demotivated to return to school. Today, she feels empowered to protect others. Her family often asks her to discontinue her work – out of fear for her, she assumes. But she firmly says, “I will leave my parents and husband if I have to, but I won’t leave this work.”

Source: The Christian Science Monitor Daily for February 1, 2019

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