India: Trafficking survivors earn their livelihood as security guards

Girls are trafficked from Jharkhand, a northern state in India, for forced labour, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. The agents involved in the human trafficking racket manage well networked, unauthorized placement agencies. Scouts are sent in search of girls who fall to the lure of these agents. They are then employed as domestic maids in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai. They never receive the promised salary and the money goes to the agents directly.

Often these girls are emotionally, physically and sexually abused, shuttling from one house to the other. Some manage to escape when the torture becomes unbearable or are rescued by the police and sent back home, where they are not always openly welcome. Their return may spark off a new crisis, as the girls come back with nothing but prolonged scars of abuse. In many reported cases, their families see them as a cause of shame and keep them confined at home.

A Jharkhand based organization, Bharati Kisan Sangh (BKS) took a positive step to help rehabilitate these survivors through livelihood skills with the hope of reintegrating them back into society. In 2009, BKS introduced an innovative security guard training course, to promote livelihood options for adolescent tribal women in rural areas. It places women's security and human rights at the centre of its efforts, promoting women's rights, opportunities and capacities through this initiative. With support from UNODC and with an aim to create sustainable livelihood options to protect and prevent women from being trafficked, BKS, facilitated the establishment of a placement agency to ensure employment for trafficking survivors in the age group of 18-25 years.

Subsequently, these women and girls are trained by BKS as security guards for three months and provided job placements. The three month comprehensive training course makes use of their natural skills, strengths, and their strong hope and desire to start life afresh. Under this unique initiative, 30 women were trained to enhance their capacities and become economically independent.

So far, BKS has trained the first batch of 25 tribal girls for the hospitality industry while the second batch is attending classes. Earlier BKS has provided special combat training for these girls, many of whom guard state stadiums and guesthouses in Jharkhand. Some of their basic duties include patrolling campuses, investigating malfunctions including temperature, lighting, windows and security and physical protection against burglars.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, the Government of Jharkhand and UNODC supported this victim assistance initiative for women and children under the UNODC project "Reducing children's vulnerability to abuse and rehabilitation of survivors'. The project was possible thanks to the contribution of USAID.

Learn more about this initiative by reading the February 2010 issue of India Today, a leading national magazine, which published a feature article "A Brand New Life".