BTC is a non-profit organization which has been fighting sex trafficking in India since 1990. Anisha* and her younger brother and sister were the first children to be rescued in BTC. Today, Anisha* is happily married and has kids of her own who she hopes will continue to fight the good fight. With over a million children enslaved in the red light districts of India, BTC was created with a vision to break the cycle of trafficking through impact-driven initiatives that help those rescued become productive and empowered members of society.
BTC has an extensive rehabilitation program for those rescued with only one agenda – to show love and hope in all our actions. With this at the foundation of our work, BTC is not just an organization or reintegration program. BTC is family.
*Name changed to protect her identity
‘On her graduation ceremony, Tara* didn’t have to look too far to find him. Uncle was cheering in the very first row! On her wedding day, though, he wasn’t in the crowd. He was right beside her, walking her down the aisle. Her children today call him ‘Uncle’ too and she smiles at the thought. Deep inside, Tara* knows that he has been a father to her all along.
They said it was a midlife crisis. But he was nowhere near his midlife. Then they said he was crazy to give up a stable job and follow this dream. He did anyway. Just thinking about the thousands of young lives that are sold into Mumbai’s red light districts was enough to send K.K. Devaraj on the next flight to Mumbai.
God had zapped an overwhelming burden onto his heart and he was on a mission to end this abomination. “They are my daughters too! I am not going to wait for a law to be passed… I am going to go get them!” 25 years on, Devaraj is known fondly as ‘Uncle’ and his mission is stronger than ever.
“Go away!” he screamed, eyes burning with rage. This was the seventh night in a row that Rajiv* ran away from the night shelter. He rebuked them every single day. Why did they keep coming back? They lie. There is no home. They’ll probably sell him off. Or even worse… On the fifth night he found them waiting for him in the streets, yet again. They were the only constant in all the chaos. He walked up to the man with the kind eyes. “I’ll come home with you, Uncle”, he said.
Much like Rajiv*, the women, children and orphaned street boys in the red light districts are not easy to reach out to. We encounter obstacles, both physical and psychological, during the rescue process.
Our first few attempts are met with strong resistance, not only from the traffickers and other beneficiaries, but also from the victims themselves. Our outreach team goes into the red light districts every day. The team strives to overcome these obstacles, little by little, with patience and persistence. Our constant presence in the streets form relationships based on love and hope. This gives the victims the courage to entrust their lives to us and begin the process towards restoration.
We realised early on that merely rescuing those in the streets was not the answer. All our work would be in vain if they did not find the means to restore and rebuild their lives.
So we took up the nearly impossible task of acquiring spaces and devising aftercare programs that empower those we rescue.
Our aftercare programs provide homes, education, vocational opportunities, counselling and healthcare. The physical and mental rehabilitation helps them find independence and make new beginnings.
Our efforts are predominantly directed towards areas where women are trafficked. However, we also see the need to fight this issue in areas where trafficking begins.
With this in mind, we have established prevention programs in Nepal, Shillong, Sangli and Miraj. Women are sourced from here on a large scale and brought into the red light districts in Mumbai.
Although research has shown that poverty is not the direct cause of trafficking, it triggers other risk factors such as low levels of education. According to the study, nearly 50 per cent of the trafficked victims surveyed reported a family income of less than INR 66 per day. Our prevention team counsels people in these communities that are highly vulnerable. We create awareness about the importance of education and help provide opportunities that empower women and children in these areas.