Tag Archives: human trafficking

The Men Who Stop Traffic

Oct 22, 2011 via The National by Helena Frith Powell

Parashu ML, left, and Stanly KV started rescuing victims of trafficking more than 20 years ago.
Sitting across a table from these two softly-spoken, unassuming middle-aged men it’s hard to imagine them picking fights with pimps or collecting court summonses with a shrug of the shoulders; but Stanly KV and Parashu ML have been raiding brothels and private homes to rescue girls, boys and women for the past 20 years. Sometimes with the aid of the police, sometimes in spite of the police, these two quiet men of Mysore have kicked in doors and traded blows with traffickers to help free more than 2,000 victims across southern India.

The pair run Odanadi – meaning “soul mate” – an organisation that provides refuge, counselling, education and rehabilitation for up to 85 victims of trafficking at a time. They have taken in scores of domestic slaves and bonded labourers. They’ve raided 60 brothels and secured the convictions of 137 sex traffickers.

Impressive figures. But then the problem is on a massive scale. The Indian government’s own figures put the amount of people in some way involved in human trafficking – the illegal trade in people for the purposes of slavery, commercial sexual exploitation or forced labour – at around 100 million. Of those, 1.2 million are children.

But this fight did not start as a crusade against seemingly insurmountable odds; instead, they were shamed into it.

In the late 1980s, the two young friends worked together as newspaper journalists so closely their byline read simply ‘Stanly Parashu’. It was while conducting interviews for a piece on Dalits – members of India’s strict hierarchical system born below even the lowest caste – that they were challenged by a woman in the street.

 

“Her name was Radhamma,” Stanly says. “She was a prostitute, lower in social standing than even Dalits.

“She asked us: ‘What do you do with the story of these poor people? You write about them, get yourselves a good name, but these people get nothing in return. They think you are a saviour but you don’t come back.’ That really pricked our egos,” says Stanly.

Stung by the criticism, the men turned their attention towards one of India’s greatest taboos – prostitution – starting with Radhamma herself.

“Radhamma had been a housewife,” Stanly says. “But her husband took her to Bombay and sold her to a brothel. When he returned home without her he explained to her family she had run off with another man. He then married his wife’s sister.”

After two years Radhamma managed to escape the brothel and return to her village, now with a child fathered by a client. But her family believed her husband’s story and she was cast out, ending up living on the street working as a prostitute, depending on 10 clients a day to earn enough money to live on and send her son to school.

 

Radhamma had been working the streets for 10 years when Stanly and Parashu met her.

“We wanted to help, to give her financial support, and look after the boy’s education,” says Stanly.

Although they gave her a little cash and arranged for local restaurants to feed her son, Nanjumda, Radhamma found resistance to her change in circumstances too much to bear.

“When we returned a fortnight later, we found her again on the street in the same filthy condition,” Stanly says. “She said: ‘You gave me money but money is not changing my life. No one is accepting me, people are bothering me, police are harassing me.’ “

Prostitutes coming under the police spotlight are treated with little sympathy.

“Women were dragged by their hair; there were no policewomen in those days,” Parashu says. “The male officers would drag them to the police station half-nude. “No one would ask the authorities about this violation of their human rights. We told the police that these ladies are citizens, human beings. We asked them to treat them humanely.

“We started questioning this ill-treatment and dragged chairs into the offices for the women to sit on instead of being forced to stand in the corner of the police station,” says Parashu. “This started the gap to open between the police and us.” Next page

 

Yoga Stops Traffick

[from the Odanadi website]

Over the past 20 years Odanadi Seva Trust has rescued and rehabilitated more than 1850 children, carried out 57 brothel raids and brought 137 traffickers to justice. With your help, compassion and cooperation, Odanadi will continue to provide a place of sanctuary for the survivors of human trafficking and offer them a chance to rebuild their lives.

From the grand entrance gates of Mysore Palace, YOGA STOPS TRAFFICK INDIA will be led by a group of young people from Odanadi, many of whom are survivors of slavery, domestic abuse and forced prostitution. Over the years Astanga Yoga has come to play a vital role in their rehabilitation program: building their physical and mental strength, restoring a sense of peace, confidence and self-worth.

Odanadi residents will be accompanied by 200 visiting yoga practitioners, politicians, parliamentarians, social activists, members of the press, local and international supporters.

You can join Odanadi on March 13th by organising your own YOGA STOPS TRAFFICK event at your local yoga centres, living rooms, parks or any other public spaces – just use your imaginations!

Click here to find out more about this organization and how you can get involved

30-day bike ride across India against human trafficking

Mysore based social organization Odanadi is embarking on a 30-day bike ride across India to raise awareness about human trafficking, sexual exploitation and child slavery.

“On May 25th, 22 victims of trafficking and a team of 10 volunteers will embark on a cycling expedition around the southern Indian state of Karnataka. We will stop in 70 villages along the way, where Odanadi women will perform plays, songs and dances to illustrate the problem of human trafficking to the local people. They will give us a place to sleep for the night and we will plant a tree as a gesture of thanks.

This trip is a significant step forward for the women and girls at Odanadi: some are the survivors of Bombay brothels; one of them has HIV, others are the children of prostitutes, rescued from the streets. This bike ride is not only aiming to spread awareness to the thousands of people we will meet along our journey, but is also a vital part of their rehabilitation. It gives them a chance to mix with the communities that have rejected them; to tell their stories and reassert their place in the world. Making their way across rural India will build their physical and emotional strength, self esteem and confidence – getting them ready for reintegration back into mainstream society.”

odanadi

Watch it: Human trafficking in SE Asia

Sold: An MTV EXIT Special : Director: Charmaine Choo | Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2007

Synopsis (from cultureunplugged.com): MTV EXIT present sold, a gripping documentary presented by Indian actress and UNFPA Ambassador, Lara Dutta. The Program introduces the tragedy of trafficking in South Asia where thousand of young girls and boys are sold into modern-day slavery. It features Pramila, an 18 year old girl who was trafficked from Nepal to a brothel in Pune ; Afsana, a 16 year old who was trafficked from her village in Bangladesh into forced domestic servitude in Kolkata; and Zakir who was just 11 when he was trafficked by his aunt into a zari factory. Their stories are told alongside those of other people from the trafficking chain including a middleman who preyed on young women in Mumbai before selling them brothels, a zari factory owner who has witnessed trafficking and exploitation and an inspirational trafficking survivors, Sarita who works as a border guard looking out for potential victims and traffickers. Sold provides a compelling look into this dark, inhuman, and exploitative world and shows how each one of us can help to prevent modern-day slavery.

take action:  Odanadi Seva Trust