In some of the poorest villages of Rajasthan, India, there are a few communities that survive by sending their adolescent daughters to cities for commercial sex work. This is an accepted tradition with origins going back more than a century. In these villages, girls are celebrated at birth as potential bread winners and grow up learning that they have a certain obligation to their family to do this work. In these impoverished landscapes, this is often the only means of survival for the family. These communities are also isolated from the scope of existing development programs and outreach efforts.
Education to break this cycle of trafficking
The key to breaking the cycle of poverty and exploitation is to ensure that girls from these communities are given the opportunity to pursue their education and foresee alternative livelihoods. By empowering girls with knowledge and leadership skills, we help them develop the ability to make their own choices and decide on their future. Research shows that educated girls have better economic prospects, better health, have fewer children, and give back to their communities in sustainable ways.
Our Outreach Approach
We are able to work effectively in these villages through our partners and community members who are equally committed to creating change. This local presence is what makes the implementation effective. We work with dedicated members of the community who counsel and get the buy-in of the parents to allow their daughters to stay in school. This ensures the greatest chance of success.
Empowering girls through scholarships
High school and Post Secondary Scholarships
The scholarships we provide are a lifeline for young girls in these communities that would otherwise be trafficked into sex work.
We have identified students who have shown interest in pursuing higher education and who are currently being pressured to enter the sex trade as soon as the COVID 19 lockdown is lifted. It is absolutely crucial for us to intervene immediately. We are committed to protecting and supporting these girls by financing their education and residential boarding until completion. We help them seek admission in a school with a reputation of imparting quality education to girls in high school, transitioning to post secondary education.
Cost of educating and residential boarding for one child for a year is $3600
Primary and Middle School Scholarships
Our primary and middle school scholarships provide much needed funds to remove barriers and ensure that the girls stay in school.
This covers the cost of school supplies, additional tutoring, counselling, nutrition and transportation. There is no academic merit required but we prioritize the scholarships according to those who are the most vulnerable children in the villages we work in.
Cost of supporting one child for a year is $240
Given the right opportunities, these girls will be able to excel in academics as well as strengthen their fight against the existing injustice prevalent in their communities. They will become role models and inspire other girls to follow their dreams. The well rounded education will equip them with skills leading to their holistic development. As a two-pronged approach, the project will work directly to build the leadership skills of girls on one end while also developing them into role models fighting for the rights of the vulnerable.
These brave girls are attempting to break the existing socio-cultural traditions, but in order to do so, they need your support. You can enable these girls to dream bigger.
All contributions add up and together we can reach more children in the 27 villages that we are currently working in.
Some Student Profiles
(names have been changed to protect their privacy)
Rupali’s father works as a driver in Jaipur. She lives with her grandmother, who is a retired sex worker, in the village. She has just completed grade 8. Rupali’s siblings live in Jaipur with the father. She wants to study further but can’t as her father is not willing to support her education. Her grandmother is dependent on the old age pension which is not enough to even support their monthly household expenses. Rupali hopes to find a good job to support her grandmother after completing her education.
Ishita’s mother is a commercial sex worker and she is the only daughter in the family. This means that the burden to sustain the family after her mother retires will be on her. She has three brothers. Ishita’s mother has been wanting to send her into sex work but she is determined to not enter the trade. She topped her grade 10 exams and wanted to study science but due to lack of financial support, she was unable to do so. She also won the Gargi Award, an award given by the state government to the best performers in the state. She recently appeared for her grade 12 exams. She wants to pursue her bachelors from a good college in Jaipur, become an Indian Administrative Services Officer and help other girls from her village in breaking this cycle of sex work and prostitution.
Chaaya completed her grade 8 exams this year. Her father runs a small shop in the village. She has five brothers and is the only daughter in the house. She is extremely vulnerable to trafficking because of poverty. Due to lack of resources in the house and the economic condition of the family, Chaaya will be sent for sex work in the next few months. Chaaya is a brilliant student and wants to help other girls to fulfill their dreams.
Smita is 14 years old. Her family consists of her mother, father who is HIV positive, two brothers who are currently studying, and two elder sisters who are commercial sex workers. Her elder sister used to excel in school but was forced into the sex trade by her mother. Smita is an ardent learner and hopes to continue with her education. She recently wrote her grade 8 exams. Her mother is very keen on sending her to Mumbai once the lockdown is revoked.
Ananya, 17 years old, has just given her exams for grade 8. She is one of the brightest students in her village and has won numerous competitions. Her mother who was a commercial sex worker passed away recently due to HIV. She has two older siblings; a brother and a sister. The sister is working in the red-light area of Mumbai and the brother stays in Mumbai with her. Her younger sister and brother live with Ananya in their village. Ananya is financially dependent on her aunt, who is also a commercial sex worker, and who wants to send Ananya into the sex trade. Ananya is adamant she does not want to follow her family and community traditional practice and she hopes to have the opportunity for a better life. She often breaks down while thinking of her mother who wanted her to continue with her education and avoid entering this practice.
When one first meets Anita, you see a shy 16-year-old, with a glimmer of hope in her eyes. Anita belongs to a community known to send their girls into the sex trade as soon as they hit puberty. Anita’s mother is a commercial sex worker and so is her grandmother. Anita may be shy at first but is absolutely certain that she doesn’t want to follow her family’s traditional practice. She is the first girl from the community to have gone beyond grade 8. But this wasn’t easy. When she was about to start grade 9, her family members insisted on stopping her education in order to send her to the red-light area of Mumbai. Anita, however, is a promising student and she is determined to pursue her education to become a police officer and help fight for women and children’s rights.