One Woman's Efforts are Saving Hundreds of Sex Trafficking Victims
90 % of the human trafficking in India is internal and those from the most disadvantaged sections, including the lower castes, are the most victimized ones. This fact was recently brought to light by the US State Department report on India.
India is now considered to be the source, destination, and transit point for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau data, the government’s anti-human trafficking units registered over 1,700 cases of human trafficking in 2020 with sexual exploitation for prostitution being the top reason.
The report says that 4,709 victims, including 2,222 below 18 years, were trafficked across the country in 2020. The actual figures are manifold, as the official data only relates to cases that have been investigated.
The only saving grace amid such statistics is that we still have NGOs like Rescue Foundation that are working with commitment to rescue, rehabilitate and repatriate victims of human trafficking rescued from different parts of India, Nepal & Bangladesh.
Established in 2000 by the late Balkrishna Acharya, Rescue Foundation is now managed by his wife Triveni, and is a non-profit, government-recognized, and registered NGO working to fulfill its duties to this most neglected segment of our society. Their primary aim is to ensure that women’s human rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled.
On average, the organization helps rescue 300 girls a year. They make sure that after the rescue, these women and girls live a life of dignity for which they are trained in necessary vocations and life skills.
For Triveni Acharya, a former investigative journalist and the co-founder of Rescue Foundation, the ‘Wall of Blessings’ represents hope for all sex trafficking survivors. The Mumbai-based nonprofit has rescued over 5000 sex trafficking victims in various parts of the country in the last twenty years.
Triveni Acharya Source: Facebook
A life-changing incident
It all began with an incident that changed Triveni’s life forever.
In 1993, Triveni and her husband Balkrishna Acharya were visiting Mumbai’s Kamathipura area, known as the city’s red-light district. What she saw was a scene so stark, that it was to change the lives of thousands.
Heavily painted eyelids, dark, chapping lipstick, powdered cheeks, well-aged jewelry pulling at ears and noses - all on strikingly young faces. Faces of Adolescent Girls – bought, sold, stolen from Nepal, and forced into prostitution.
She came across a very young girl sitting alone and looking lost. When she asked the girl if she was looking for her mother or wanted any other help, Triveni learned that the girl was from Nepal and had been forced into sex work.
At that time, Triveni had been an investigative journalist in Mumbai for over ten years. She had seen a lot by then, but she was not prepared for the shock she received on that day. When she probed a bit more and got more details about the sex trafficking of young girls and women, Triveni and her husband, a former military man, plunged in and started rescuing girls with the help of social workers and police.
Sometimes the victims are as young as four or five years old.
As they rescued more and more girls in various parts of Mumbai, Gujarat, and other places, they felt the need to rehabilitate sex trafficking survivors. This meant housing the survivors and providing them food, healthcare, psychological support, education, vocational training, and legal aid.
Shelter homes for rehabilitation. Source: Website
Rescue and rehabilitation
In 2005, Balkrishna Acharya passed away owing to an accident. Since then, Triveni has been managing the organization. Rescue Foundation also takes care of girls and women who are HIV positive, or even pregnant, when they are rescued.
The NGO has an in-house pathological laboratory and permanent doctors on duty as well who are there to fully take care of the girls. These girls are given a good diet rich in proteins and vitamins like milk, fruits and vegetables which are cultivated by the group members themselves in their Boisar Recovery Care Center.
The foundation has four care homes in Maharashtra and Delhi where human trafficking survivors are rehabilitated and many girls are repatriated to their families. Rescue Foundation also facilitates the repatriation of rescued sex trafficking survivors to countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, and even Uzbekistan.
Volunteers of Rescue Foundation, police, and other government agencies work closely to investigate and find out brothels where trafficked victims are often kept under detention. Sometimes the volunteers risk their lives while rescuing the girls and women. Triveni is often at the forefront.
As a part of rehabilitation activities, the girls are given vocational course training. Jewelry making, beautician training, and various other activities are offered as a part of vocational training classes. In jewelry-making, they create trending designs, offering both commitment and creativity to all their classes.
When the products are market-ready, they are made available for sale, and proceeds from the same are given to the girls.