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3 Red light areas in Kolkata, West Bengal
Thematic Focus: Protection

Background of the Project

DIKSHA, as a program works with adolescents as partners in change. It focuses on the development of inner strength and emphasizes on the integration of individual development with the needs of the community. DIKSHA’s effort are generally aimed at creating change in externalized factors that adversely affect varying segments of civil society in different ways, resulting in a number of organizations providing a wide range of services. The uniqueness of DIKSHA, both programmatically and methodologically, lies in its stress on creating change from within and involvement of adolescent groups through development of CBRT (Community Based Resource Team). Ms. Paramita Banerjee, the founder-coordinator of DIKSHA, has been actively involved in development activities since the early 1980s. DIKSHA is the culmination of her activities with adolescents living in red light areas. Paramita was also selected as regional coordinator of ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking) in 2005. Diksha has evolved its own methodology of experiential approach that specializes in offering a safe space to adolescents to make individual development possible. The operational areas of Diksha are red light areas in and around the city of Kolkata - Kalighat and Khidirpur. The third operational area they have ventured is Suri in Birbhum district. The project works with the children from families dependent on prostitution and the core groups formed with these youths implement the project activities. They have been able to stop entry of second generation into this occupation without any harm in their dignity.

Problem Statement:

Kalighat, situated in the southern part of Kolkata is famous for the historic temple. Adjacent to the Kalighat temple is the red light area where around 500 families live a life in which human rights, child rights are violated out rightly day in and day out. Khidirpur on the other hand is adjacent to the Calcutta Port. The red light areas of Khidirpur (Doighata and Munshigunj) are only a few kilometres away from Kalighat. The situation is somewhat different from that of Kalighat. Women and girls from the adjacent locality entertain clients in the two red light areas mentioned above as the two places are not necessarily brothel based. Young girls are often lured by men who dupe them in the false promises of marriage and force them to enter into prostitution. The possibility of girls trafficked in the guise of marriage couldn’t be ruled out as contact with girls post marriage is very rare. As the child grows up, s/he starts supplementing the family income. Boys work as labors in nearby garages, fish markets, catering, white wash and painting of buildings, in shops and establishments, open market, and in loading, unloading of goods while the girl child helps in domestic chores, looks after the younger ones or works in nearby middle class households as domestic maids. There is a prevalence of dropout children in Munsigunj as parents do not give importance to education in the community engaged with human scavenging. The easy availability of alcohol and different forms of addiction makes them susceptible to alcoholism, smoking and substance dependence. Girls are seen as a liability to the family members and family members are found to take the girls to their village and often get them married off.

Achievements & Impact

Program Activities Planned Progress and Achievements

Key Result Area: Preventive and responsive initiatives undertaken to reduce child abuse (violence against children - physical, mental and sexual) and substance abuse

● Conduct 8 monthly sessions on abuse, child labor, child marriage, substance abuse and other issues related to child protection in the 3 drop-in-centers.
● Ensure need based individual counseling of 30% identified children (at risk/ abused) and 20% parents of the identified children in 3 centers.
● 10 members of Rakhi Group to be capacitated to intervene in cases of abuse and campaign against abuse.
● Conduct one workshop to develop children’s anger and self-management capacities along with improved leadership skills.
● Group counseling in 3 intervention areas held with all children who have disclosed /reported substance dependence.
● Conduct individual counseling for 10% of 52 children identified as dependent on substance through last year.
● Initiate the formation of a support group of de-addicted children.
● 3 skits to be developed on child sexual abuse from the 3 centers for developing awareness on child sexual abuse and its ill effects.
● Liaise & Interface with WLCPC, Police, Health department officials, child welfare committee, and other stakeholders for addressing child sexual abuses.

● 120 sessions have been undertaken in the year with 185 children (boys – 110, girls – 75) in the year (Kalighat – 40, Khidirpur – 92, Munsigunj –107).
● 14 cases of child sexual abuse has been identified and addressed from Kalighat and Munsigunj.
● Training have capacitated 48 guardians with the knowledge and ability to place the reported cases before the Police. The remaining guardians though having the information of redress are more comfortable in approaching staff and members of DIKSHA in case of redress of violation.
● 55 members (25 in Munsigunj and 30 in Khidirpur) of the Rakhi Group are equipped to intervene in cases of abuse and take up the issue in their locality to prevent the same.
● 36 Women’s group meetings were held annually (once in a quarter) in the 3 fields which resulted in sharing of issues of children and taking actions accordingly. Of the 36 sessions, 12 sessions on dance therapy have been undertaken in Kalighat and Munsigunj by “Sanved” to address their internal issues also which helped to address their anger.
● 34 children (Kalighat – 18, Khidirpur -2, Munsigunj -13) have been engaged in counseling.
● Group Counseling has been held in the 3 centers focused on abuse and violence. A group of 9 children are motivating their peers on identification of behavioral problems in them. Of the 73 children being mapped through the violence meter, it is being observed that there is a decrease shared by 20 children (27.39%) with regards to facing violence.
● Play Therapy (explained in later part of this report) has been conducted twice with the senior group members by the Project Holder and thrice with the junior group members by the staff.

Program Activities Planned Progress and Achievements

Key Result Area: Prevent and reduce child labor and child marriage.

● School attendance ensured for 50% Children aged 6-14 years engaged in child labor and ensure protective environment for children.
● Home visit to families of all 18 identified children of last year and new cases that are vulnerable to Child Marriage.
● Capacitate 10 children with leadership skills for motivating peers and identifying children vulnerable to marriage and ensure 18 children identified as vulnerable to child marriage do not get married.

● Total children in labor in the age 6-14 years – 4 boys (Kalighat – 1, Munsigunj –1, Khidirpur – 2). Out of them, 3 are studying in school. 1 boy in Munsigunj had to drop out for financial reasons to support his mother and his siblings. Though there has been an increase from last year’s 2 children to 4 children this year, there is a motivation for continuing school that is being given by DIKSHA to the children and with the guardians. Engagement with the employers has seen 2 of them allowing the children to attend school. Home visits have been undertaken for all the cases to encourage the guardians to wean off their children from labor and promote their attendance in school.
● Total children in labor (aged 14 years and above) – 9 {(Khidirpur – 6 (boys), Kalighat – 3 (girls)}. Of the 3 girls in Kalighat 2 are working as domestic help as well as continuing with their schooling; In Khidirpur all of the 6 boys have to engage in work because of financial reasons at their family level).
● 11 drop out children (boys -9, girls -2) were enrolled in the year (Kalighat 1 girl, Khidirpur – 1 girl &Munshigunj – 9 boys). Of the 8 children enrolled in Khidirpur, 1 girl has moved out of the area, the remaining 7 are continuing with schooling. In Kalighat of th 2 girls (sisters) enrolled last year.
● Out of 10 children who appeared for Higher Secondary Examination, 9 were boys. For boys who could earn easily relying on the red light area economy, the shift is seen as non-reliance on the red light economy and focusing on education.
● Of the 10 children identified being dependent on substance, 3 children could be motivated for individual counseling. Of the 3 children, 1 girl is being taken to Samikshani for counseling and psychiatric medical support.

Program Activities Planned Progress and Achievements

Key Result Area: Fully functional Juvenile Justice (JJ) systems in project area.

● Conduct 4 workshops each in schools in the 3 ward.
● Build capacities of children from 3 wards to voice protection issues to WLCPCs.
● Initiate quarterly meeting to strengthen child protection mechanisms involving the local councilor, schools, police, club representatives, Rakhi group members and other key members from the community, for providing community based safety to children at risks and in need of care & protection.

● 8 children collectives are having monthly meetings regularly.
● Education Plus workshop was done in 2 schools engaging 133 boys. Life skills and sexual abuse prevention sessions were done amongst these boys.
● In Kalighat, 3 members (2 girls and 1 boy) of the senior group are coming forward to take sessions with the junior group members. From the old members of DIKSHA, there are 3 of them who support DIKSHA in organizing programs, undertaking rehearsals for the Community Program. Leadership skills of 11 adolescents in Munsigunj have seen significant development.

Some of the specific featured program activities undertaken by DIKSHA:

During the period, violence meter mapping was one of the critical tools to understand or rather map the violence faced by a child in three different settings of Home, Community and other spaces accessed by her/him. Another objective was that this mapping has helped in analyzing the prevalence of violence in the lives of children over the years, to see whether it is reducing in the lives of children over the generations or not. Data collection was done with 20 personnel from 5 intergenerational approaches.
Transact map was basically a safety mapping exercise amidst the groups where children were asked to draw safe spaces and unsafe spaces in lieu of their vicinity and mobility. Then they have been asked to locate extreme unsafe places, mediocre unsafe places, and places for which they don’t have any fair ideas of safety –related nuances.
Play therapy is a psychological tool where children are provided with a space where with the help of storytelling they can come up with varied notions and incidents of their own personal life which they somehow are not being able to share as their own. Initially children had stories which ended in death. This was analyzed as two probability – i) the trauma, stress, conflict and violence is so interlinked, they are unable to sustain happiness for which they bring death as an end. The other probability is the absence of a futuristic vision for which they are unable to think after a point of time for which they can bring death to end the story. The children may also bring up issues of care, love, nurturing in the family which they might be bereft of and might aspire for, hence the stories of happiness revolve around circumstances which are juxtaposed to their lives. However not knowing how to take them forward they might end the stories with death. Gradually it aids the counsellor to understand the need and types of Counseling aids to individual children with the help of play therapies and other therapeutic sessions.
Group Counseling is proving to be effective in cases where otherwise staff are unable to identify the need of the child or may be the child himself/herself is not being able to share his/her thoughts freely. E.g. in Kalighat there is a boy aged 11 years. He disrupts sessions which causes disturbance for others. This came out from the counselor who observed him during group Counseling. It surfaced that the child faced enormous violence at home – physical violence. His father is a victim of physical violence himself which he perpetuates on this child. The disruption at the sessions has decreased with Counseling and the child is being monitored. Group Counseling is also a way of smooth heading towards individual or more specialized Counseling sessions. Need based individual Counseling was also organized. The present situation also resulted in shaping the abuse in different forms though there was variance of intensity. In covid-19 situations as the children are at home thus more number of sessions are taken.

Case Story:

An 11 year old girl, studying in fifth standard of Kalighat Mahakali Pathshala, was subjected to unspeakable physical abuse by her parents and grandfather. Her parents used to force her to do various physical work including begging near Kalighat temple, to earn money. They run an illegal liquor business for which too they used to exploit the girl in various ways. Placing liquor bottles inside her school bag or forcing her to gather customers are some of them. During the present COVID situation, torture rose to new heights. Torturing or punching was not excluded from pressing a rock or a brick on her chest. Neighbor also came to save her but all in vain. Even DIKSHA could not stop the torture or communicate with the parents (The girl feared that this could be more dangerous for her) nor could arrange counseling for the girl. At last DIKSHA lodged a complaint to the Child Line. Child Line representatives visited Kalighat twice during the month of June amidst the pandemic.The girl was scared and did not admit of being abused. Therefore Child Line was not able to take the girl to a Home. The girl said that her parents had promised her that they will not abuse her again. But again she was terribly tortured. DIKSHA then contacted CWC . CWC suggested that an FIR should be lodged at Kalighat Police Station. However that did not materialize as the police station refused to take the FIR and assured to solve the problem by negotiation. But the girl was severely tortured again in the month of July. The local community now intervened and DIKSHA called SCPCR . This proved to be helpful as SCPCR lodged a police complaint online and called up Kalighat PS. Finally the police rescued the girl and sent her to “Ashar Alo” (Ray of hope) Home.

Highlights of technical and capacity building inputs:

Published 6 volumes of “Our Stories through Comics” which captured the different forms of abuse sourced from workshop with children. These brought up majorly cases of child sexual abuse. The many ways in which the children’s voices and responses to the different forms of abuse are being addressed can be captured through the comics in the content of the publication. This document can be used by practitioners who are working on addressing Child Abuse as it gives the steps to be followed and also story lines which can be contextualized as per the settings in which the organizations are working. It also is a publication where children’s expression has been captured through a participatory process.


The following are the key program activities planned for DIKSHA project for the year 2021:

Focus: Protection ● Developing IEC materials on protection issues, COVID stigma reduction, emotional wellness, and harm reduction of substance abuses.
● Conducting regular sessions accomplished on identifying, understanding and addressing issues pertaining to abuse, child labor, child marriage, substance abuse and related areas of child protection in the 3 drop-in-centers and also with varied community groups like Rakhi groups, etc.
● Preparing counseling matrix and individual plan –of-action for vulnerable children.
● Providing individual counseling, parents counseling, care-givers counseling, and group counseling as per need on a regular basis.
● Number of capacity building sessions of work group members to identify and address substance abuse cases through a workshop by subject matter specialists on ‘’harm reduction’’.
● Motivation workshops with children in substance abuse by specialists.
● Preparing a ‘’gender analysis framework ‘’ (Whence we would try to work out on ‘’socio economic contexts’’, ‘’profiling ‘’ and ‘’ what gender-considerations are typically needed for the project – in realm of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation’’.)
● Linking urban slum families with various social-security schemes. Prospective linkages with skill development agencies/schemes and tagging opportunistic adolescents with those.
● Ensuring more involvement of urban-bodies, Juvenile Justice (JJ) bodies and other stakeholders and their engagement at operational areas.

Focus: Education

● Conducting regular sensitizing sessions on NEP (National education policy) and promoting universalization of education in the operational areas.
● Regular monitoring and support to prevent dropout. Regular follow up on retention and regularities up to 18 years of age groups.
● Enrolment support for non-school going children (as and when schools reopen) (Ongoing need assessment and household status mapping during COVID 19 situations)-Providing need-based psychosocial support /counseling
Focus: Participation

● Draft one comprehensive report on exercise
● Reporting on violence mapping and on safety –perceptions by children to the adult domain/ stakeholders.
● Strengthening adolescent’s collectives. Organizing varied child-center –sessions, art and play therapies with children collectives.

Total amount disbursed in 2020 - 14,024

Financial Summary: January to December 2021

Budget Breakup 2021
















Total Grant Approved