Sanlaap25 Mar 2007, by Uncategorized in
Sanlaap is a rescue, rehabilitation and trafficking prevention program for survivors and high risk youth in West Bengal, India. 100 survivors live at Sanlaap’s Calcutta shelter and several hundred youth from the red light communities participate in Sanlaap’s drop-in prevention programs. Sanlaap also engages in legal advocacy, and works with law enforcement and government to improve services for women and children.
We have twice visited the Sneha shelter and recently also spent time at one of the drop in centers in the Bobazar red light area. The district is a warren of alleyways, squalid and terribly sad, with young girls lined up in brothels and on the streets. Neglected children run freely among the pimps and customers. But the Sanlaap drop in center is an oasis of hope – a true sanctuary – in the middle of this broken place. Here, children laugh, play, sing, draw and study. They remain in the center from 4 to 8 pm which is when their mothers, often young victims of trafficking themselves, are busy entertaining clients. Without long term interventions such as this, all of the girls here would ultimately trafficked alongside their mothers.
When Sanlaap founder Indrani Sinha started her crusade against trafficking, she was criticized by the Indian government and press for shedding light on a shameful side of Indian life. She also fought apathy and ignorance from law enforcement. On one memorable occasion, the police sent a representative to one Sanlaap’s training sessions on human trafficking – from the traffic police! But today, the government supports her work, and has even modeled their own government shelter on Sanlaap, asking Sinha for guidance.
Sanlaap’s management has expressed great interest in working with TEN to set up survivor-owned handicrafts businesses, or co-ops. These survivors would live independently and support themselves through these small handicrafts businesses.
As one Sanlaap survivor recently told us “It was Sanlaap that first put hope in me, so all my hopes are here. I will work here as a teacher and counselor – I will always be associated with Sanlaap’.