Theory Of Change

Young girls, boys, women and men in poverty, often from rural India, become victims of trafficking when they seek opportunities for survival or livelihood in cities of India. In most of the cases, traffickers entrap them by luring marriage, better life and livelihood options, and sell them into sex trade or subject them to debt bondage and slavery.

They live a life full of unspeakable misery, abuse and torture. Some of them manage to escape and return to their families. But they struggle to cope with poverty, stigma and violence in their families and communities.

For example, the life of a young woman, who has faced deprivation, has had little or no opportunities for education, livelihoods, and now must face rejections amongst her own relatives, friends, neighbors can be defeating. Even when she manages to escape the exploitation of traffickers, she finds herself being incarcerated in shelter homes. There is little help that she has that can help her to fight stigma, to find employment, to get her health and welfare services that she needs to become healthy and self-reliant.

Such a story of exploitation does not end with her escaping the clutches of traffickers, it continues when they find that people whom they turn to for help, be it the Panchayats, hospitals, bureaucrats, lawyers or police officers, are unwilling or unable to offer them justice and ensure that they get the services and help they are entitled to. They remain victim and everyone treat them as victims, who are helpless, hapless and do not have the opportunity to live a life of dignity or get the justice that they deserve.

However, this story can change. It changes when we help survivors mobilize and organize themselves into collectives and provide them with information about their entitlements and rights, and with support to fight for them, to claim them, they find the strength to fight back. From victims, they learn to survive hostile and difficult situations in their lives, and with each small battle that they take up, they gain confidence to challenge the apathy of the system, negotiate with duty bearers for their rights and entitlements and voice their demands, and help governments and NGOs to design and provide services that would be helpful and meaningful for them.

The five services that helps survivors in making this journey from being a victim of a system to becoming a leader of their own lives and in their communities are:

  • (a) Facilitation to help them collectivize, form groups, and receive information about their rights and entitlements and duty bearers who are responsible to provide them and make action plans to make formal claims.
  • (b) Secretarial services to help them make formal applications for services to Panchayats, block development officers and health service providers for welfare entitlements including housing, financial services, testing and treatment for health recovery, and documentations of all such correspondence.
  • (c) Legal aid to help them claim compensation from the State and provide them legal representation in courts of law in cases against traffickers, protection from threats and intimidation from traffickers in the course of investigation and trials. Appeals in courts to challenge negligence, malpractice and dereliction of duty by police officers and prosecutors.
  • (d) Trained social workers to help and train survivors to defend themselves from stigma and prejudice in families, communities and public offices (Panchayats, hospitals or police stations).
  • (e) Opportunities to engage with the media, to get their voices heard by policy makers, to build accountability of duty bearers, facilitate communication with politicians and leaders of the community and state.