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Empowering women and adolescents in distress through education, health, and awareness

Campaign by Kshamata

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Story

The trafficking of children and women is a serious concern in India. According to a report published by the US Department of State, India is the source, destination, and transit country for human trafficking. The statistics of the

Ministry of Women and Child Development state that 19,223 women and children were trafficked in 2016 against 15,448 in 2015, with the highest number of victims being recorded in the eastern state of West Bengal. People from scheduled castes and tribes and the women and children from excluded groups of the society are generally lured by a promise of a better lifestyle and employment opportunity and sold off by the agents.

Human trafficking is considered to be the third largest organized crime globally and the number is increasing every year. Poverty, uneven employment, gender discrimination, harmful traditional and cultural practices and lack of proper policy implementation to end this grave condition are some of the causes of human trafficking in India.

Almost 80% of all worldwide trafficking is for sexual exploitation, with an estimated 1.2 million children being bought and sold into sexual slavery every year. India as a nation is still being used by the traffickers as receiving, sending and transit country. Women and girls are the main victims of human trafficking in India. They are then forced into prostitution, forced marriage, and domestic work. Based on a report published by the government of India, there are approximately 10 million sex workers in India, out of which 1,00,000 belong to Mumbai alone which is Asia’s largest sex industry centre.

In addition to trafficking for prostitution, girls and women are also bought and sold into forced

marriages in women deficit areas due to female infanticide.

In many cases, trafficked children and women are at the risk of all manner of ills, from unwanted pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer, severe physical injury, violence, drug abuse and more, not to mention the emotional trauma and long-run psychological impact. After the rescue, women are placed with the state government-run shelter homes which come

under the Women and Child Development Department (WCD), provide a safe and protected environment and basic facilities such as food, clothing, shelter, security, medical assistance training related facilities, legal aid, and so on.

In order to reintegrate them into society, they need to be provided with proper medical care, life skills, education, and must be made aware of issues pertaining to their well-being.

Kshamata, therefore, proposes to work on developing a model for integrated socio-economic rehabilitation and reintegration of vulnerable women including abandoned women, destitute women, victims of abuse, and exploitation and survivors of trafficking in Mumbai and Thane. The project involves ongoing counselling, direct health interventions and formal as well informal

education for women which will help them lead a healthy and respectful life in future.

We are thankful to Morgan Stanley for giving us an opportunity to exhibit and sell hand-made products being made by women in shelter homes. We wish to have continued support in the near future which will enable us to liberate the women and make them independent in every aspect of their lives. Followings are the few areas of interventions where we require your support:

Health Care

1. Health check-up camps and medical aid:

The shelter homes in Mumbai and Thane do not have sufficient health resources in hand which eventually affects the well being of young women, making them more vulnerable during their detention period. Regular health check camps will help them prevent chronical illnesses as well as infectious diseases like skin infections.

We plan to organized four different camps, namely general medical camp, breast cancer detection camp, eye and dental camp in a year. Follow up will be taken by a team of field coordinators with the help of volunteers. Furthermore, women/adolescent girls who are in need of immediate medical attention will be taken care of on a priority basis.

2. Psychosocial care and counselling: (Mental Health Care)

Counselling is an indispensable part of mental health care. This is the first step but continues throughout the engagement. Women and children who experience abuse and trauma carry the heavy emotional, social, and spiritual burdens associated with separation from and loss of loved ones, attack and victimisation, sexual assault, economic ruin, and disruption of the normal patterns of living. Psycho-social programs seek to limit these effects and prevent further harmful events and strengthen their coping mechanisms.

3. Health Awareness:

Women and girls who have been the victims of sexual abuse, trafficking or any kind of violence become more vulnerable to health issues. Making them aware of health hazards, treatments, prevention and nutrition will be the main focus of this programme.

4. Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM):

Adolescent girls constitute an extremely vulnerable group, particularly in India where the female child is neglected. Menstruation is still regarded as something unclean or dirty in Indian society. The reaction to menstruation depends upon awareness and knowledge about the subject. The manner in which a girl learns about menstruation and its associated changes may have an impact on her response to the event of menarche. Although menstruation is a natural process, it is linked with several misconceptions and practices, which sometimes result in adverse health outcomes. Hygiene-related practices of women during menstruation are of considerable importance, as it has a health impact in terms

of increased vulnerability to reproductive tract infections (RTI).

However, proper menstrual hygiene and correct perceptions and beliefs can protect the women from this suffering. The adolescent girls and women from shelter homes are more prone to it because of inadequate access to primary health services and poor hygiene during periods. Kshamata has already run a pilot programme with over 100 girls in three different shelter homes in 2016-17.

Education

1. Formal and Informal education

Kshamata requires educational support for our residential girls at Kshamata Transformation Center (KTC) in terms of educational fee sponsorship, the requirement of long exercise books and reliable textbooks. This year, we have twenty girls who are willing to pursue formal educational course through an Open University like NIOS and distance educational universities such as Mumbai University, Kalina. The young women who have never gone to school will be enabled through informal learning under adult literacy programme. They will be taught their signatures along with basic knowledge in terms of speaking, writing and comprehension of Hindi and English language.

2. Computer Education

We have been running computer literacy classes in two shelter homes for both girls and boys. This year, MS Office and internet programmes will be covered under computer education for which we are planning to extend these classes to two more homes in Ulhasnagar area and we plan to hire a tutor who can impart the course in a professional way. We request Morgan Stanley Foundation to help us by sponsoring the tutor’s honorarium. Details are given in the enclosed budget sheet.

3. Life skills education:

Life skills are necessary to recognize and manage our own and others’ emotions. Considering the problems and crisis faced by the women in the past, it will be good to have some life skills training

imparted to them in order to make them lead a confident and respectful life. Life skills like sessions on decision making, communication skills, self-awareness, problem-solving, time management, etc. can be organized. Experts would be brought in conducting these pieces of training on a bi-weekly basis once the women are identified and committed to the intervention programme. The sessions will be conducted in three shelter homes for the girls aged between 14-18 years.

Life skills will help sustain the various skills that the girl/woman acquires and developes through different training sessions.

Expected outcomes:

• Improved health status and reduced sickness

• Information on nutritious food converting into better eating habits

• Increased awareness on menstrual hygiene, nutritious food, health and hygiene

• Reduction in the vulnerability level

• Raised level of self-confidence

• Enhanced employability and improved skills

Indicators:

• 150 women/girls have been given counselling, life-skills and vocational training over a period

of 12 months.

• 20 girls are supported with formal education under NIOS and they have been encouraged to

pursue higher education

• 100% of women/girls are aware of menstrual hygiene practices

• Increased awareness among women and girls regarding basic health and nutrition

among 100% women / girls

• 200 benefit from the medical camps

• 200 girls received counselling and life skills

Organisers
Kshamata

Kshamata

Beneficiary Charity

Binny Itty

Binny Itty

Organiser

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