Long gone are the days when slavery and servitude crept its way into our social system. Despite being outlawed by the judiciary system, they continue to exist in our society in different forms. Several illegal activities are being conducted in every corner of our system. One of the major contributors includes Human Trafficking in which women & Girls are sold as commodities and are forced into prostitution. According to reports published by the International Labour Organization in 2015, 5 million humans are a victim to forced sexual exploitation.
For more than two decades, Mumbai’s Triveni Acharya has been a ray of hope for these young girls. She has rescued over 5,000 adolescent girls and women from different brothels and has been providing them with all the post-trauma care.
“I wasn’t even aware of prostitution and human trafficking. I used to see some girls standing wearing dark lipsticks and some provocative clothing, but I thought they are doing it willingly. It was my husband who educated me about it,” says Triveni as reported by Asian Age
Her-Story as a Saviour
In 1991, Triveni Acharya & Balakrishna, her husband, moved from Gujurat to Mumbai, looking to begin a new life after Balakrishna’s 12 years of serving in the military. She started her career as a journalist while her husband started his business.
One fine afternoon in 1993, Triveni Acharya came across a 14-year-old girl, who she thought was the daughter of a sex worker, in the city’s Kamathipura area, Asia’s largest red-light area. She went there to cover actor Sunil Dutt who was visiting the sex workers to get a rakhi tied by them. To her surprise, she was astonished to find out that she was a victim of trafficking.
Triveni told Asian Age, “She was brought from Nepal for work, but was sold instead. I was asked to leave that place, but my husband reported the incident to the police and rescued the girl,”
Triveni Acharya & her husband had mere knowledge about human trafficking, but one thing they knew was that those girls deserved to be free and practice their fundamental human rights.
In 1996, the couple successfully registered their NGO, ‘Rescue Foundation,’ and rescued over 400 girls in one of their very first major operations. This made the issue of sex trafficking the center of attraction and was covered widely by the press. Fast forward to today, the NGO has rescued 5,000 girls from such rackets from cities like Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Agra, Bihar, and Rajasthan.
The Main Causes of Trafficking
Triveni Acharya considers poverty to be the main reason for human trafficking. Young women risk their lives for the sake of earning one meal for the day. Many of them are also kidnapped and forced into the sex market. Surprisingly, in many tribes, prostitution is a tradition that has been practiced for generations. The demand for prostitution is very high in India because of which the chances of its end are tough. Many times, women hailing from great financial backgrounds are also trapped by drug addiction and are then brought into the market of prostitution. There have been incidents where multiple times, women are deceived into this monstrous world with false promises of marriage. These issues are being faced worldwide. According to a report by India Today, Pakistani women have been forced into sex trafficking through illicit matchmaking centers who promised them a ‘good life’ by marrying Chinese men.
Years ahead, has the tracking become any easier?
“Quite the contrary. Earlier, it was easy for us to get information because these brothels were in areas that were known to be red light areas like Falkland road. Now, prostitution is run secretly in spas or massage parlors, dance bars, lodges, and even dhabas. So it’s more difficult for us to get information.”, mentioned Triveni.
Rescue, Health & Rehabilitation
After rescuing the victims are brought to shelters where a couple of health tests are run- including HIV and pregnancy tests. They also provide them with counseling and nutrition to help them tackle trauma. They also run some age verification checks. In case, the rescued victims are younger than 16; they are produced before the child welfare committee. The organization then passes all the information to the court, which monitors the progress each month. If the family is a part of the trafficking, the girls are kept in the shelter until they turn 18. If they are pregnant and it is not possible to abort, they are assisted in the delivery, and in case, the mother wants to give them up to an adoption agency, the court orders that. If they are above 18, the shelter houses them for six months after which they are transferred to their state, preferably to their partner NGO.
Triveni Acharya’s organization, The Rescue Foundation, has won several awards. According to data mentioned, she has won various awards including Asian Democracy and Human Rights Award, Stree Shakti Award for Women Entrepreneurs, Civil Courage Price of The Train Foundation, and so on. She also became the 2013 Humanitarian Honoree of World of Children Awards.