The trafficking and sexual exploitation of young women and children have become serious issues in South Asia, and particularly in India where 40% of the three million trafficked people in the country are children.
Poverty, illiteracy and a lack of access to education are significant factors related to the problem, making women and young people more likely to be at risk.
Prerana is a pioneering organisation based in Mumbai, which seeks to protect children born to women living in the red light districts and thus vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking. The organisation offers these children comprehensive protection and an opportunity to lead a life full of dignity, self-fulfilment and free from exploitation.
Prerana's first night care centre was set up in 1986, in collaboration with the local community. Since then, two more centres have opened. The organisation now provides further services ranging from the immediate protection of vulnerable children to the rehabilitation and social reintegration of those who have been trafficked and rescued. These include shelter, nutrition, health, education programmes, life skills and vocational training.
Prerana is a passionate public advocate for these young people. It works hard to share its expertise and build collaborative networks with other organisations in the same field. It has shared a software programme that helps to track rescued girls and to monitor their recovery and rehabilitation. At a regional and national level, Prerana has set up functional anti-trafficking networks with NGOs from Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and various states of India.
The organisation's Anti-Trafficking Centre is also an important shared resource, offering training for enforcement officers and others in the public sector.
Prerana has been successful in influencing Indian policymaking at various levels. The organisation was instrumental in persuading the government to integrate a child trafficking policy into the country's 1998 National Plan. Its work has also been acknowledged internationally: Prerana received the International Anti-Slavery Award from ECPAT International in 2002, and their founder was nominated by the US government for the position of United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking in 2004.
Prerana's three night care centres are currently providing shelter to more than 250 children every night. Hundreds of children are being supported through educational programmes, shelter homes and a residential training centre for rescued girls. Since 1986, more than 5,000 children have benefited from Prerana’s work, and more than 1,000 have been removed from the red light areas and sent to children's shelters for long-term protection, care and development.
Prerana used a significant proportion of the Impact Award funding towards renovation and construction. The organisation improved its shelter facilities and bought new furniture for one of their night care centres. The centre provides a safe place for mothers to protect their children from the influences and dangers of the red light district during the critical night hours.
Prerana was also able to build the Naunihal Girls' Shelter which provides support, educational programs, medical check-ups and meetings with the girls' mothers or guardians. Funding also went towards updating IT hardware sytems, administrative backup and staff salaries.
The capacity building support has helped to launch a new website, rebrand the organisation and create a fundraising strategy.
Photos: Andy Aitchison