In today’s world, human trafficking is a bleak reality. One of the most rapidly growing criminal activities in the world, this is one unfortunate crisis from which there is no turning away. News reports and empirical statistics from all over the world clearly show that the numbers are only on the rise. Trafficking of humans is not limited by gender or age and may be perpetrated for a variety of reasons. However, figures make it evident that the most common reason for human trafficking is sexual exploitation and girls and women are certainly the most vulnerable to this phenomenon.
Kolkata is capital of the state of West Bengal and one of the largest cities in India. Often hailed as the City of Joy, it is revered for its cultural heritage (it was the erstwhile capital of India), its food and textiles and its deep appreciation for art and literature. However, the city also has its dark sides. Trafficking of women and girls is dismally high in and around Kolkata. The actual numbers of girls working in the city’s flourishing sex trade will perhaps far exceed official figures and statistics. The girls are lured or abducted from their homes located in mofussil and tribal areas and neighboring states as well as bordering countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal. Moreover, girls are also trafficked from or via Kolkata to other cities across the country.
In the midst of this gloomy state of affairs however, there is hope for victims of trafficking. Even as trafficking figures continue to rise, a number of women and girls are rescued from the sex trade by organizations and groups dedicated to the cause. In some cases, girls also manage to escape the racket themselves and are located by rescuers in time.
Rescued girls are usually placed at shelter homes, where their safety is ensured till they come of age. Some girls are able to go back to their families but many are compelled to start life afresh and on their own. Responsible shelter homes and interest groups such as ours make it a mission to encourage these girls to study and develop skills that will help them to find a secure means of livelihood. At Destiny Foundation, we often conduct training programs at shelter homes and in the Red Light area where we equip girls with knowledge of vocational skills such as sewing and crafts together with basic Literacy.
We want to make sure that no girl who escapes from trafficking has to return to that world again. Our social entrepreneurship program strives to provide girls from such underprivileged and vulnerable backgrounds a steady means of employment. The girls’ stint with the Foundation begins with on-the-job training conducted at Destiny, where they are taught stitching, and embroidery among other skills. Once adequately trained, they’re employed in Reflection, becoming a part of a formal work environment. Our products hand-made by our employees – a variety of bags, fashion accessories, stationery items, kantha and household furnishings made from silk sari fabrics and block-printed organic cotton – constitute Reflection’s signature collections. Proceeds from the sale of these products support the Foundation’s activities and ensure a steady income for the employed girls.
Today we are supporting around 75 women and children through our program, we also extend assistance to a few independent individuals and women’s groups who work and produce goods in collaboration with us.
Almost 60 women have been reintegrated through Destiny .