STOP THE TRAFFIK Goes to India!

764About the Trip

In 2014, STOP THE TRAFFIK Australia announced that they would be hosting a 12-day, group trip to India. This was an amazing opportunity for STOP THE TRAFFIK volunteers to travel to the world’s epicentre of human trafficking, meet with campaigners and prevention workers, visit projects on the ground, and learn more about the culture of human trafficking. Natalia, a trip participant, was eager to share her experiences and offered to do an interview with STOP THE TRAFFIK so all of our activists could learn about trafficking in India. She said, “The idea is to be aware and understand more of how [human trafficking] works in India,”.

Over their 12-day journey, the group visited Hyderabad, Mumbia, and Assam.

slum sewing womenIn Hyderabad, Natalia said she was impressed by the work being done by the Dalit Freedom Network (DFN) who work with “‘untouchable’ women called Jonanis who are forced into prostitution as a cultural/religious norm. DFN runs a shelter home for their daughters to save them from being prostituted and instead they attend the DFN school!”

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhile the group was visiting Mumbai, they were able to visit some of the city’s slums and witness the work being done by Oasis (the parent charity of STOP THE TRAFFIK) to support women who have been prostituted with support services like childcare and training. Oasis also works to raise awareness in slums. If you’re interested in learning more about the work that Oasis is doing in India, watch this video.

Finally, the group visited Assam – a region that is well known to STOP THE TRAFFIK for the exploitation that is prevalent in the region’s many tea plantations. Natalia said, “We saw the awareness and community strengthening work being done which has had amazing results at building resilient and aware communities – trafficking has reduced significantly and they’ve traced and returned some young people who had been trafficked.”

Interview with Natalia

461You must have met some amazing people when you were out there. Amongst such amazing people what stories should our activists hear?

These LEGENDS (pictured above) work with Nepalese women in New Mumbai; they’re trafficked in on the promise of jobs because Nepal is poor and Mumbai is developing but they’re then forced into prostitution. These guys (Bhanu, Abhay and David) work with these women and their children; they’re not a charity, just workers linked to a church.

Of specific awesomeness was the fact that they realised the children…slept underneath the mums’ beds while they were prostituted so they built beds and bought an old brothel room in the alley – the same alley where the women live and are prostituted – now they run it as a small daycare and night shelter. Their vision is to buy a room upstairs for vocational training. Abhay has actually adopted four kids at the request of the mums – it started cos’ one woman said her pimp had threatened to put her daughter ‘to work’ as she wasn’t earning enough.

What were some of the greatest challenges that you faced on your trip?

The fact it’s just so endemic because of poverty and desperation. It was encouraging and inspiring (an overused term in our country but applicable to this!) to see the work being done to lighten up the darkness but just to know there’s *countless* other tea plantations, villages and slums where this is happening with no outreach. India is MASSIVE and so very poor; we’d pass FAMILIES living in a tent on the pavement as a normal part of the day.
If you had to describe the spirit of some of the people you met on the trip in 3 words what would they be?
Generous,  persistent, strong.
 
Do you have any advice for our activists about the best ways that they can get involved?
  • Follow groups like STOP THE TRAFFIK, Oasis UK & the Dalit Freedom Network on social media and share the updates.
  • Be aware of how use language e.g. instead of saying ‘prostitutes’ or ‘sex workers’ when discussing trafficking, terms like ‘prostituted women’ ‘users’ ‘sex buyers’ are are accurate and show the subtle but important difference between sex work and sex slavery.
  • Buy ethical tea, chocolate, etc. and instead of waiting for a campaign, just message the ones who don’t sell these with tweets/emails etc.
  • Raise awareness & money in fun ways e.g. tea party, dvd eve, henna party if raising money for STT India (just established).

Natalia, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences! We’re so glad that you were able to have such a wonderful and eye-opening trip with STOP THE TRAFFIK Australia!

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