Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-integration

Victims of sex trafficking are sold and resold over and over again in a continuous cycle of exploitation. Once a trafficked girl eventually succumbs to her circumstances within prostitution, she is closely watched and her movements and interactions are monitored and restricted. A constant struggle for existence in an exploitative structure of pimps, goondas and brothel-madams makes any escape attempt virtually impossible. Tricked into a hellish nightmare all because of their naive hopes and faith in humanity, these young girls become trapped in prostitution with no option of breaking free.
Proper rescue and restoration of a victim is paramount to effectively fighting against human trafficking. After extensive analysis and understanding of the problem, BAPU developed an intervention to break the cycle of exploitation and end the torment faced by victims of trafficking: the Rescue and Restoration Program (RRP).
In addition to conducting rescues, there is a home investigation team which collects statements from family members and relatives to ensure that there is adequate safety and security in the home of the rescued victim if she chooses to return and live with them. Finally, the legal team is responsible for assisting judicial recourse through preparing the victim to appear in court and applying for state benefits such as housing and ration cards. The primary forms of legal support provided by the RRP team include helping the victim (and in some cases her family) to prepare statements in court, appear in court to present the case against the traffickers in front of the magistrate, and apply for government welfare benefits.
Victims of sex trafficking, subjected to sexual violence, go through irreversible psychological damage and are vulnerable to be infected by a range of sexually transmitted infections. Most often the issue of reintegration with the family becomes a distant reality as families are reluctant to accept responsibility for the child’s upbringing fearing negative societal impact or many a times it is difficult to reunite the victim with the family as they might be the traffickers themselves. This aspect combined with HIV/AIDS completes the cycle of rejection. Therefore in the process of rehabilitation there is also a need for temporary and institutional care as a primary means of protection of the victim. Over a period of time with adequate mental health intervention and economic empowerment the victim as a rehabilitated young adult could be prepared for reintegration.
Regardless of the age of a victim, healing has to be looked at from a holistic perspective. The psychological impact of sex trafficking on the victims needs a mental health intervention which involves counseling in an ambience of healing and building capacities of the team to support the healing process. This has to be translated to tangible evidence based processes which validate self esteem & self confidence. Therefore rehabilitation is essentially a blend of psychological, economic & civic identity.
For a victim, psychological recovery is not just about healing through pain and trauma but is influenced by various other factors such as sexually transmitted infections, reproductive tract infections, addiction and HIV/AIDS. Hence psychological rehabilitation comprises of a combination of trauma counseling, peer counseling, group counseling and barefoot counseling. Hence the routine chamber-based forms of mental health intervention are not appropriate. It has to be a very flexible model customized to suit the unique individual needs
A key aspect for any survivor in terms of preparedness for social reintegration is the employability factor. After a period of stay in the shelter, when the resident is discharged from the home she needs to be confident about her employability potential. This is the most dangerous grey area in all anti-trafficking programs, given that victims who feel they are unemployable in any sector are much more vulnerable to being re-trafficked. Hence it is necessary to select the kind of livelihood training based on interest and aptitude by assessing the victim as well as market viability of the trade.
In spite of being healed psychologically and emotionally and despite being economically independent, the battle of a survivor of sex trafficking is not won unless she has a social identity. Another crucially important step in the process of rehabilitation is thus civic empowerment, which implicates retrieval of her social identity and a societal form of acceptance through the form of electoral cards, ration cards, subsidized housing, etc. The domain of civic identity is principally a government directive. Some states in India have special schemes and benefits from the government for the welfare of sex trafficked victims. Efforts are continuously made to create channels for the victim to get access to civic benefits which are rightfully hers, which involve submitting applications for the allocation of a wide range of benefits.
Social reintegration is the ultimate aim of all rehabilitation programs. This reintegration consists of the survivor being able to live in the mainstream world with dignity and pride. Most victims who have come to BAPU for support are survivors today living and adjusting in the normal mainstream society. Many girls have found partners for themselves, many are living on their own and some of them have been effectively reunited to their families. The process of reintegration is a long and tedious one and filled with a lot of difficulties. Sometimes in spite of all the efforts there have been instances of re-trafficking. Although strategies for reintegration are ever-evolving, BAPU has explored three primary forms of reintegration: family reunion, marriage and independent living.
When a girl expresses that she wishes to be reunited with her family, a home investigation is taken up on court request and also for restoration purposes most often with the support of a local partner NGO. If the investigation reveals that the family is not a safe place for the girl, family reunion is avoided and she is counseled to stay back in the organization. But if the home investigation reports are positive, showing no correlation between the families and trafficking as well as an adequate level of economic stability, then immediate efforts are taken to arrange a home visit for counseling and restoration of the survivor.
Supported by :
  • Group Development 
  • West Bengal Police
Major Accomplishment :
  • Dealt with 175 trafficking cases throughout the nation where we rescued and restored the victims.
  • We work with the district police and administration and we are the members of the district and state level committees formed by UNODC to combat trafficking.
  • We have our networking and linkages with the NGO’s and GO’s of Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • Facilitated the International rally on trafficking.
  • Research work on safe migration