14,285,700 persons enslaved in India
are mainly trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and bonded labour*
Global Slavery Index 2014
Save Our Sisters (SOS)
India’s modern slavery challenges are immense. Across India’s population of over 1.2 billion people, all forms of modern slavery, including inter-generational bonded labour, trafficking for sexual exploitation, and forced marriages, exist.
Our initiative to combat human trafficking began in 1996, as a response mechanism for the repatriation and rehabilitation of 122 victims from Nepal in Mumbai.
Through the launch of Save Our Sisters program in 2000, Save The Children India has been addressing the pertinent issue of human trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation in India.
Save Our Sisters adopts a holistic approach with intervention in 4 areas:
- Policy Advocacy
Addresses the root causes of trafficking at the village level by reducing vulnerability factors such as lack of opportunities, livelihoods, gender discrimination etc.
- Forms a network of NGOs at the village level, assists and builds their capacity over three years to create awareness and empower vulnerable communities by forming groups of women, youth, adolescents and vigilance committees.
- Key stakeholders such as local police, self governance members (e.g. Panchayat), block development officers, teachers, health workers and state transport workers are provided with training to develop appropriate attitude and understanding.
- Prevention programme for young women residing in urban migrant slum communities through vocational skill training and job placement support.
To prevent re-trafficking and enable reintegration & rehabilitation of Survivors.
- Works with existing Government-run shelter homes in Mumbai to provide life-skills and livelihood training to rescued girls and women.
- Runs Sahas Kendra, a center for survivors of human trafficking to provide services of non-formal literacy, life-skills coaching, recreational activities and livelihood training in beauty, stitching, tailoring and nursing.
Sensitization and training of Law Enforcement machinery to ensure effective implementation of laws.
- Capacity building workshops and training are conducted for police, prosecutors and judges in Maharashtra for proper attitudinal orientation, building knowledge and clarifying concepts of trafficking laws and procedures.
Influencing Government policies at the State and National level.
- Formed a State Coordination unit with the Department of Women and Child Development, Maharashtra, for greater co-operation among various stakeholders and institutions.
Varsha was only 12 years old when her mother passed away in prolonged illness. Two years later, her father too passed away due to a road accident. Being the lone child, she sought shelter at her maternal uncle and aunt’s house.
They discontinued her education in 9th standard and sent her to work in a pen moulding factory, where she was being paid a meager Rs. 1000 for 10 hours of daily work. Even though she was contributing to the income of the family, she was always considered a burden on the family and was mistreated- by way of verbal and physical abuse.
In the meantime, she met Suresh who would stand outside the factory and wait for her. Varsha eventually started talking to him and later fell in love with him.
Suresh told her that his family will not approve their marriage and suggested fleeing to Mumbai and living there. Varsha, however, persuaded him to marry her first and then leave for Mumbai. Agreeing to this, they got married in a local temple and soon started their journey to Mumbai. Suresh ensured that she collected her belongings and some valuables from her aunt’s house before leaving.
It took six days for them to reach Mumbai via train and bus, which included various halts where she was sexually exploited by Suresh. Varsha’s instinct said something was wrong but she also thought it to be too early to form an opinion.
Upon reaching Mumbai, Suresh took her to his friend’s house in a slum. He asked her to stay there while he looked for work and a better place to stay. Suresh’s so-called friend was actually a pimp and to whom Varsha was sold. Suresh had run away with all of Varsha’s belongings too.
Soon, she was forced into prostitution, but was fortunately rescued and transferred to an NGO-run care and protection home.
When Varsha was referred to our rehabilitation center called Sahas Kendra, she was traumatised and had lost her self-esteem. It took her six months to respond to the efforts of our counselors. Group counseling sessions helped her to realize that she is not alone and that many like her are working towards building a better future.
Varsha underwent livelihood training in beauty and hair treatment and did exceptionally well in her final exams. She was further referred to an advanced training course in nail art and extension. Her proficiency was spotted by an external training consultant and was recommended for a job at a renowned salon.
She was immediately offered a job in the Hyderabad branch with a starting salary of Rs. 10,000 and company-paid accommodation and food. Our team member travelled and stayed with her as she settled into her new job and the new city.
Varsha is now happy and makes frequent phone calls to members of Sahas Kendra to share her accomplishments and learning.
Survivor of Human Trafficking
Save The Children India is a wonderful organization. I reached a stage where I was afraid of getting out of the house, however today, after the time I have spent with them and after mastering the Beauty course at the Sahas Kendra, I have the confidence to pursue a job