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Location

3 wards of Kolkata city & 2 districts in West Bengal
Thematic Focus: Protection


Project Background:

SANLAAP was formally registered under the societies registration act in 1989. Sanlaap is now known even outside of India for its work related to changing situations of many children and young women who were trafficked within their own country and beyond borders for commercial sexual abuse and violence. Initially its main focus was to work with girls and women exploited in the sex trafficking industry. Later on, Sanlaap decided to work with policy advocacy initiatives for the protection of children. It has four core areas of work and accordingly designs its program under four broad areas such as:

  • Prevention of trafficking, especially for commercial sexual exploitation of women and children.
  • Prevention of second generation prostitution through facilitating services for women in need and capacity building of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) emerging to work on child protection and welfare of children and women rescued / escaped from the violence or trafficking.
  • Re-integration and mainstreaming of trafficking survivors.
  • Advocacy on issues related to rights of the child..

Problem Statement:


In the state of West Bengal, issues of child protection especially trafficking and child marriage assumes an enormous proportion due to the geographical location of the state. It has a porous international border with mountain locked Nepal and Bhutan to the north, riverine Bangladesh in the east and seas in the south. The state is highly vulnerable to interstate and cross border trafficking of children and women by unscrupulous elements. The child protection issues are also made severe by many local socio-economic factors. Considering and comparing the rural population’s per capita income with that of urban, the former with limited earning capacity in poverty situations, makes people, especially girls and women, susceptible to traffickers. Many guardians look at children as a means to supplement the family income and hardly think of issues like the importance of education for children, gender discrimination, unsafe migration without sufficient information, and the perils of sending a child for work to unknown destinations which effectively assists in commissioning offence of trafficking. Children in the state are trafficked primarily for labor and sexual exploitation. Accordingly to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 44% of victims of trafficking were associated with the state of West Bengal, nearly 75% of them were under the age of 18 years old and 85% of them were women. Similarly, nearly 80% of the victims of trafficking rescued were under 18 years old and over 83% were women. However, the effective judicial process is insignificant as can be understood from the conviction of only 11 people out of 1,795 charged against the arrest of 1,847. On the other hand, the courts had acquitted 224 people. Hardly 30% of cases get charge sheets filled in this low crime reporting scenario and the conviction rate is less than 10% according to the same report. It amplifies the fact that access to justice for trafficked survivors is an area that needs to be seriously addressed. The non-engagement of the survivors in the entire judiciary process results in absence of ownership in the process which results in children looking at the court procedures as a burden.

Marriage has been one of the guises for trafficking. About 54% of minor girls in West Bengal get married before the legal age of marriage as per DLHS 2007-08. The vulnerability of the guardians and the girls are exploited by the traffickers. Social customs, tradition, ignorance, poverty and security for the girls perpetuate child marriage over the generations impeding the development of girls. Limitations have been observed among both the duty bearers and right holders. The laws are inadequate which are further weakened by ineffective enforcement by untrained functionaries at different levels. The ineffective juvenile justice system, lack of convergence among the existing social protection programs, inadequate budgetary provisions, lack of provisions of rehabilitation of the rescued children, minimal prosecutions and procedural delays in prosecution play their part in perpetuating the injustice against children. The patriarchal values, socio-cultural acceptance of child marriage, diverse socio-cultural and economic conditions, lack of access to education, lack of job opportunities and livelihood insecurity, lack of awareness of community on the redressing mechanism, lack of information on available systems to address the issue, limitations of the RTE Act to provide free education to children up to the age of 18 and impact of globalization and modernization resulting in a dream of having a better and secure life among the adolescents are the bedrock on which the children had been becoming victims of trafficking and child marriage. Children growing up in the red light areas of Kolkata are vulnerable to a host of child rights violations, stigma and discrimination which often renders them to be reliant on the red light economy on the rebound. The absence of involvement of the urban governance structures for addressing the issues of child protection through convergence and planning results in worsening of the situation of violations.


Achievements & Impact


Some of the prominent achievements of the year are as follows

  • 21 minor girls (including 4 from Bangladesh, 17 from South 24 Pargana and Murshidabad) and 6 adult women were rescued from prostitution with the efforts of Sanlaap.
  • 10 traffickers have been arrested from North 24 Pargana - Bangladesh border.
  • 7 cases of child marriages were prevented through the direct intervention in Bowbazar in Kolkata.
  • 19 cases of child labor were prevented with direct intervention in 3 RLAs (Red Light Areas) and ward 26.
  • 2,500 vulnerable families were distributed soaps and play materials during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • 206 vulnerable families (includes 180 HH in Bowbazar from other sources) affected by COVID were provided with dry rations.
  • 140 children were distributed dry rations in the three project intervention areas.
  • Masks were distributed to the vulnerable children, their families and stakeholders in 4 wards of Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

Program Activities Planned Progress and Achievements

KRA: Intervention in 3 Red Light Areas on Preventive Approach

● Providing special coaching support to vulnerable children from 3 RLAs (Red Light Areas) to ensure their retention and completion of school final examinations

● Online coaching support provided to a small group of children who had access to android phones during lockdown. 170 children covered at initial level and later on it was reduced to 90.
● 151 children and youth in 3 areas were provided special educational guidance.
● Regular meetings were done with 3 youth groups from the RLAs. And they are attending on a regular basis during the evening coaching classes.


Program Activities Planned Progress and Achievements

KRA: Introduction of digital medium in prevention and capacity building with school students.

● Conduct next level training for Sanlaap, SCPCR and urban partner staffs in Ranchi for better understanding of the IVR (moderation, content creation and the backend processes)
● Conduct 8 grooming programs with the children and youth for developing a pool of expert speakers to address the problems put forth by the callers/ share their story of change.
● Assessment of the IVR calls with Gram Vaani and SCPCR for inclusion of additional content, sharing of reports and work on areas of further improvement including content development in Bengali IVR.
● Conduct sessions on child protection with focus on child sexual abuse and trafficking prevention, promotion of IVR for awareness and promotion of disclosure in schools of Kolkata, North and South 24 Parganas for classes VII to X.

● 157 children and youth from 3 areas participated in the Sanvidhan Live program. These sessions were organized on the fundamental rights and duties / responsibilities.
● Two workshops were held with 30 selected children from the RLAs. The objective of these workshops were to make participants identify the local vulnerabilities (regarding Child Protection) and promoting collective actions.
● One promotional meeting has been held in North 24 Parganas (Gotra GP of Basirhat) which focused on child sexual abuse, trafficking, prevention and promotion of IVR for awareness and promotion of disclosure in schools of Kolkata, North & South 24 Paraganas for Grades 7 to 10.
● 7 episodes of the Community Radio Program were promoted and broadcasted in Kolkata and other districts.


Program Activities Planned Progress and Achievements

KRA: Working on effective “Community Policing

● Meeting with the community policing wing of Kolkata Police for identifying the scope of appropriate community policing programs and better utilization of the child friendly corner.
● Organize events in partnership with police to involve children and related adults under football matches, drawing, outings or similar activities.

● Interactions and meetings were held with local police on relief work for Covid. Relief work has been done in partnership with local police
● 3 meetings have been planned in 3 RLAs where children and youth can interact with Police.

KRA: Prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration ensuring social inclusion.

● Formation of survivors groups in North and South 24 Parganas.

● 141 children (both boys and girls) are involved in sports (Football).
● Girls (football players) groups were formed and functional in all the 3 areas.
● 2 Consultations organized with the survivors of South 24 Parganas in Sneha home where mental health counseling and support were provided.
● 30 children were identified with potential of leadership and public speaking and 4 meetings were initiated with them.

Case Storie

● Shuvam grew up in a red light area of Kolkata. He lives with his parents, brother and sister. His mother and grandmother are directly involved in the sex business. His alcoholic father does not pay much at home. As much as he earns, he spends most for his addiction. His father often beats his mother and two children and kicks them out of the house. In extreme financial hardship his studies cease. He looks for easy ways to earn. But he was too young and he was not given a job. This time someone in the area gave him money to buy him liquor, instead he gave Shuvam some money. In this way he used to bring alcohol or drugs to the area and instead made some money. For a few months, he has been earning this way. But after a while he became intoxicated and began to consume them. Shuvam's mother came to know everything and beat Shuvam. But Shuvam got addicted to making money at that time. He would not listen to her at all. Friends of Shuvam's mother then told her about Sanlaap. His mother took him to the organization. Talking to the staff there, Shuvam slowly tried to change himself. He started attending school again. Now, he is aware of what is right and what is wrong. Shuvam who was so hot headed before is much amiable now. Shuvam who was so addicted to the substance now tries to convince those who are into substance dependence. He has started to protest against the atrocities to his mother. He even brought his mother to a meeting at Sanlaap to find solutions to the atrocities. Her mother is now staying separately with her children and started working as a domestic worker. Shuvam is now the top student in his class. He loves reading books. He has a lot of skills on hand work. Sanlaap is helping him for his educational support. Shuvam is now an active member of the youth group of Sanlaap. Members of the youth group have been instrumental in helping Shuvam cope with his problems; they also keep a close watch on him to prevent him from slipping into his old habit.
● Priya is a student of Bowbazar, Kolkata. Her mother was a woman in prostitution and member of Bowbazar RLA women’s group. Having left her profession she is now working as domestic help. Priya’s alcoholic father does not provide any contribution to the family. Priya has a brother and sister also. Priya was a regular student to the DIC receiving educational support. The then 13 years old Priya was a student of Grade 6 of Bhagabati Balika Bidyalaya. After some time some changes appeared to her behavior. She started to drop the classes and was not attending school and the center. Then some of the members visited her home and school to follow up what was wrong. There they learned Priya was in a love relationship with a 19 year old boy. And there was pressure to marry the boy. Priya’s mother tried to make her understand that both of them are underage. But Priya was determined to marry and she dropped out. Priya’s mother wanted her to get a proper education but seeing her unreasonable behavior and resistance she lost all the hope. Her mother came to the Sanlaap center seeking help for the issue. Sanlaap took the case very sincerely. The staff of Sanlaap started to speak with Priya. They made her understand about the perils of child marriage and explained to her the legal implications of child marriage. But Priya was not ready to listen to anything. Then a constant counseling began. She was asked to ask the boy if the marriage happens how they would earn their livelihood. The boy replied the family will run by the dowry he will receive from her mother. Priya started understanding the wrong decision she made. After a long process of engagement, peer discussion and counseling, Priya finally became motivated. She again joined school and attended regularly and was very sincere in her studies. She is now in Grade 9 and wants to score good marks in Grade 10. Now Priya is a regular student of the football coaching classes too.

Plans

Goal Area : Protection

Outcome Areas Proposed Activities

Awareness among stakeholders – the first key to child protection

● Sessions on child protection with focus on child sexual abuse, trafficking and promotion of Community Radio Program in schools, children collectives and vulnerable areas of North and South 24 Parganas.
● Development and telecast of 24 sessions of Community Radio Program.
● Grooming program with the children and Youth for developing a pool of expert speakers / actors in the Community Radio Program.
● Study trend of migration (post COVID lockdown and Amphan cyclone) of children and young adults from the districts (4 selected) of West Bengal

Strengthen Stakeholders’ Engagement to Improve Child Protection Environment

● Meeting with the Community Policing Wing of Kolkata Police for initiating the scope of appropriate Community Policing programs
● Events in partnership with Police to involve children and related adults under Football Matches, Drawing, Outings or similar activities.
● Inter-generational dialogues and meetings with children / youth and their parents for developing articulation and leadership abilities for addressing Child Protection violations and issues.

Improve access to services to prevent children from becoming a victim of RLA environment:

● Providing special coaching support to 120 vulnerable children from 3 RLAs to ensure their retention and completion of school final examinations and higher studies.
● Networking with Mental Health Organizations for providing psycho-social support to identified cases of children needing support and referring children and young adults for counseling.
● Meetings and life skills sessions with trafficked survivors.

Goal Area : Protection

Outcome Areas Proposed Activities

Strengthening agency of children: behavior, life skills and collective action

● Developing audio capsules and comics on 6 thematic areas of the child center module of CRY and distributing those within the children in their local language.
● Life skills and leadership skills building sessions for grooming 30 selected children.
● Strengthening of youth groups through regularizing monthly group meetings.
● Visualization exercises with the collective for addressing local child protection related issues.
● Mapping of cases where children and youth have taken positive decisions and exploring opportunity of capturing such changes.

Sports helping in mainstreaming children

● Involvement of both boys and girls in “Sports for Change” sessions from 3 RLA’s
● Organize an annual event to highlight the participation of girls from the community in football.
● Link potential girls for higher levels of coaching through institutions/clubs.
● Capturing of ‘sports as a tool for empowerment’ through mapping of change in children playing football and badminton


Total amount disbursed in 2020 - 26,260


Financial Summary: January to December 2021


Budget Breakup 2021

Education

4,959

29%

Protection

7,429

42%

Participation

1,566

9%

Administration

3,445

20%

Total Grant Approved

17,399

100%