Rescue Foundation as an organization is a home of transformation of many lives. Girls changed their lives and moved towards happiness due to your admiring support finds out VIBHA SINGH.
After the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal, it was due to the sheer effort of Rescue Foundation, NGO that many Nepali girls were saved from trafficking and sexual exploitation. Many poor families were rendered homeless and without any means of sustenance the girls were being trafficked to India. Triveni Balkrishna Acharya, director and co-founder of Rescue Foundation says, “We were determined to rescue these unfortunate, innocent girls from the inhuman situation. This operation is a classic example of after effects of natural disaster. We successfully rescued 14 girls out of which we found 5 minor girls (below age 18 years) all Nepali girls from Bhiwandi red-light district on 3rd June 2015.”
Late Balkrishna Acharya, founded the NGO in 2000 which is now managed by his wife Triveni, a former journalist. On an average, it helps rescue 300 girls a year. It has worked away silently but steadfastly to rescue girls from prostitution giving them a chance to get back to a normal life.”Although my husband used to informally rescue minor girls from Mumbai’s brothels since 1993 with the help of trusted informers, he established a small NGO named Maiti Nepal in association with a Nepal-based organisation in 1995,” said Acharya.
“The NGO was renamed as Rescue Foundation in 2000 when we formalised all our operations and also involved the police,” Acharya added. The Foundation receives some help from the government’s women and child development committee, but more often it is the police who rescue the girls from forced prostitution and hand them over to the foundation for rehabilitation and repatriation.
Apart from their regular activities, the NGO is running project to rehabilitate the girls at at Boisar in Thane. Sonia More one of the residents at the center was 14, she told says she was sold into slavery, beaten and forced into prostitution. “When I arrived at the brothel, I refused to do what they told me to and they beat me and starved me for 10 days,” says the soft spoken girl. “I thought I would rather kill myself than be forced to work as a prostitute.”
She was just a schoolgirl when she found herself in Mumbai , along with thousands of other girls who are beaten, locked in tiny cages or hidden in attics. Some are forced to have sex with as many as 20 men a day under the watchful eyes of madams and pimps. The majority of girls are minors and are being forced into prostitution at a tender age. All the girls hail from different parts of India and some even from other countries.
According to United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) officials, human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in South Asia, as over 150,000 people are known to be trafficked within the region every year – for sex work, labor, forced marriages and as part of the organ trade. Traffickers often take advantage of impoverished communities, luring girls and young women with promises of jobs as maids or nannies in wealthy households in the cities.
“The girls are so young that they did not even know the meaning of the word ‘sex,’” Acharya said. “This experience horrified me and on the spot I decided to spend my life to rescue these innocent girls.”
Talking about the activities undertaken by the NGO she explains, “We regularly receive complaints that a particular girl is missing from a family either in India, Bangladesh or Nepal. Based on the description and photographs of the missing girl, our experienced investigators locate the girl in brothels of Mumbai, Thane, Pune or Delhi. If the girl is below the age of 18 years, she can be rescued directly without her consent but if she is above the age of 18 years, we need her confirmation that she is being forced to prostitute and we need her consent to be rescued Our investigator provides her ‘in-brothel counseling’ to convince her that the world outside the brothel is very beautiful and progressive. Once she gives her consent to be rescued, our investigator helps our rescue team to plan the rescue operation.”
But rescuing these girls from brothels where they are subjected to mental and physical torture to force them to become a prostitute is a task requiring tremendous courage and deep personal will. Another young girl who was just 14 years and was HIV positive also got shelter at the NGO when she lost hope from everywhere. Nearly 100 girls are housed in a six-storey building housing in Poisar, mostly minors, who are being educated, given vocational training and psychological counselling. One thing binds them – they have all been rescued from brothels across Maharashtra.
Members of foundation, not only arranged to rescue them but also brought them to the protective home. Now it is helping them rehabilitate, reintegrate with their families and live a life of dignity. The NGO provides HIV-tests and treatment, job training and emotional support to the women.
But the task is not easy as she faces frequent threats and enormous resistance from anti-social elements who are unhappy with the anti-trafficking activities. “They lose a lot of money by our rescuing girls from forced prostitution,” says Acharya.
The frequent raids by the NGO has resulted in arrest of brothel keepers and traffickers responsible for promoting trafficking in persons and for maltreating the girls. The shameful situation of forcing children into prostitution has been curbed by the timely and forceful intervention of the foundation.