The women in the red light area have been deceived, physically, emotionally and economically subjugated, dehumanised and marginalised at every step of their lives either by outsiders or, as in most cases, by their own family members. The complete lack of education over generations, augmented by pervasive poverty, makes them especially vulnerable to the exploitations of the sex trade which is a multi-million dollar industry today.
Navjeevan Centre has been relentlessly trying to enable these women to lead a fulfilled life through our comprehensive rehabilitation and reintegration process. The ultimate aim of the organisation is to reach out to all the women in the red light area through a gradual process of establishing trust through various entry point programs and encouraging their participation in all our endeavours.
The women’s unit has a membership of around 300 women. The major programs are:
1. Contact and Rapport building through various entry point programs
2. Comprehensive residential “care and protection” program for their children
3. Counselling to deal with personal and work-related emotional trauma and addiction.
4. Health care programs geared towards monitoring their health through comprehensive health checkup once a year and periodic health camps for specific health issues.
5. Medical assistance, especially for HIV, affected women
6. Legal assistance for preparation of documents like ration care, birth certificate etc
7. Encourage saving habits by assisting in opening bank accounts in recognised banks
8. Market-oriented skill development and training
9. Economic independence by identifying job suitable to the training
10. Referral to other institutional care services of women wanting to move out of the trade
11. Assistance in rehabilitation in terms of marriage, short/long term residential stay facility, migration back to the village, Housing etc.
Navjeevan Centre vehemently condemns prostitution as a trade but not the ‘prostitutes’. This point of view lays the foundation for all the advocacy processes. The process, overall, is interdisciplinary in its approach involving collaborating with like-minded people from diverse disciplines to support the issue.
The Advocacy process is directed in the following areas:-
Grass root Advocacy
This is a right based approach involving dissemination of information to the clients about their rights as human beings. This is to help them look at their situation critically and objectively and participate consciously in the change process. The aim is to reach out to all the underprivileged women in the red light areas and help them to break away from the culture of silence and take responsibility for their progress.
The aim is to reach out to the civil society through various awareness programs to facilitate a process of increasing awareness about pressing concerns and fostering their support to help these underprivileged women and their children live a life of respect and dignity. Our attempt is also to involve the youth by collaboration with various colleges across the city by creating awareness and encouraging them to participate through slogan competitions, calendar designing, voluntary work etc.
The aim is to link grass root issues to policy/program level changes by actively participating in various forums and putting forth intervention strategies which would meet the felt needs of the clients rather than the perceive needs.
Day to day contact and interaction with the mothers is an essential component in making the work of Navjeevan meaningful. The counselling centre is on the same premises as the day care centre in order to provide support and encouragement to the mothers. Apart from personal counselling, the centre also offers legal guidance to mothers. The effort of the centre are directed towards guiding them to an alternative lifestyle
A concerted effort is made to deal with the medical needs of the mothers, especially who are HIV positive. Regular check up for HIV is conducted; efforts are made to get medicines and other needed things. Mothers who are HIV positive are counselled and assisted in getting effective medical treatment. Assistance is given to mothers who need hospitalisation or institutionalisation. Mothers who desire to return to their villages are also helped.
The future of these women is very bleak since they are likely to be thrown out of the brothels as age catches on. It is imperative that the women have some form of savings. The centre provides all needed assistance to motivate women to save up some money for their future. They are constantly exposed to the various schemes available with banks and other institutions. The social workers assist them in doing all the legal formalities in opening a savings account.
Income Generation Program
This program is geared towards the women affected with HIV or other major illness due to which they are considered useless burdens by the brothel keepers and left on the streets to fend for themselves. These women need employment that is less strenuous at the same time income generating. Efforts are on to explore and tie up with some work establishments, to get work for the women. Thus, women availing the day care service at Navjeevan who can undertake work are automatically part of the income generation programme. Women will also be given required training by inviting external resource persons to develop market-oriented skills.
Navjeevan is looking at the income generation methods as an effort towards rehabilitation for women, who after picking up these may choose to leave the profession. In the later stage, Navjeevan can consider selling the products created directly through space at high-end shops helping the women earn viable profits from the skills they pick up at the centre. The income generation programme is not meant to be a source of earning alone but also to keep the women occupied as they can go into depression due to their illnesses.
Micro Credit Scheme
Many CSEW’s do not have any legal identity of their Indian citizenship. They are victims of trafficking and unable to provide any proof of residence which is a requirement for opening bank account or availing of loans. Our experience is that if women are assisted with small loan facility they are able to start a small business like selling vegetables, eatery etc. These loans could also help them look for rented premises to live. Housing is a major requirement for the rehabilitation plan.
There is an occasion where we have come in contact with women who have just landed in the red light area or are new entrants and need to be moved out quickly. Thus requires that we make arrangement for their temporary stay or arrange for them to return to their hometown. Immediate intervention would prevent them getting pulled into the trade. To rescue women from the holds of brothel keepers and pimps require payment of the money invested in the women by the brothel keeper.
The lives of women of the red light area are being documented on an ongoing basis at Navjeevan. It needs to be further strengthened to ensure detailed documentation keeping in mind the socio- political influences on the entire set up of the Red light area. The effect on the physical and mental health of the women will be documented thoroughly, aimed at using it for advocating for the issues affecting the women of the red light area. Case studies, research and survey would be undertaken to develop the database.
The women who opt to get out of the demeaning occupation are given necessary support and guidance. Mothers who are desirous of getting married or who would like to settle down to lead a family life with their children are given full assistance. This includes visiting the mothers where they live, counselling them, meeting with the prospective husbands, and guiding them to legalise their marriage. Mothers are encouraged and supported to start some income generating work. Regular follow-up visits are conducted to support and help them to stick to their decision of giving up prostitution.