on the details of
Red light zones of Kalighat (Ward No.76) and Khidirpur (Ward No.75) and Munsiganj (Ward No.75) in Kolkata State of West Bengal, India.
DIKSHA’s effort are aimed at bringing a change in external factors that adversely affect civil society in different ways, resulting in a number of organisations providing a wide range of services. The uniqueness of DIKSHA, both programmatically and methodologically, lies in its stress on bringing change from within and involvement of adolescent groups through development of CBRT (Community Based Resource Team). Ms. Paramita Banerjee, the founder-coordinator of DIKSHA, has been actively involved in development activities since the early 1980s. Her innovative ideas about shifting from service delivery to evolve a holistic rights and participation based approach for adolescent development won her a Macarthur Fellowship for Leadership Development in 1999. DIKSHA is the culmination of her activities with adolescents living in red light areas. Paramita was also selected as regional coordinator of ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking) in 2005. Diksha has evolved its own methodology of experiential approach that specializes in offering a safe space to adolescents to make individual development possible.
The operational areas of Diksha are red light areas in and around the city of Kolkata. Within the city the operational areas are Kalighat and Khidirpur. The 3rd operational area the team has ventured in is Suri in Birbhum district which was the outcome of a consultative process with CCRP. Kalighat is situated in the southern part of Kolkata. It is famous for the historic temple which draws thousands of pilgrims every day. Adjacent to the Kalighat temple is the red light area where around 500 families reside. The red light area is comprised of several by-lanes commonly known as Bada galli, Chota galli, Tabla galli etc. Khidirpur on the other hand is situated in the eastern part of the city and is adjacent to the Kolkatta Port. The red light area of Khidirpur is only a few kilometers away from Kalighat. The Khidirpur red light area has porous boundaries leading to women and children from marginalized families becoming victims of sexual exploitation. Some of the aspects of child rights that the team is working on is as follows:
- Basic status of a child and their mother in terms of health, education, prevalence of abuse,
domestic violence, scope of child’s participation in family matters affecting him and several other
aspects related to a child.
- Issues such as services provided and functioning of the ICDS, LSG’s, role of police etc.
- Structural issues such as distribution of mother’s income which covers the middlemen,
babus, owners of rooms etc.
Guided by the vision of a world where all young people can access and exercise their rights – the team’s mission is to create safe spaces for children and adolescents through building up their inner strength and integrating individual development with community needs. The team creates Community Based Resource Teams (CBRT) of adolescents and youth who act as agents of change for protection through participation
- No girls from the area would be there in prostitution.
- No boys would be dalals or babus (pimps).
- No minor girl enters into prostitution.
- No boys would be entertained.
- No woman against their wishes enters into prostitution.
Achievements & Impact in the Review Period
Kolkata has been mapped as critical on Education. This intervention gives us the scope of looking at education for children in difficult circumstances in the urban spaces. The general belief has been that in a red light area the children of prostitutes will either be prostitutes or a pimp but the team has changed this belief. Kalighat is one amongst very few red light areas where incidence of 2nd generation prostitution is absent. The member of CBRT have played a significant role in making this possible. DIKSHA’s model is different in many aspects as the team follows some unique strategies to reach their objective. They work with the children, empowering them to raise their voices in a participatory manner on protection issues through creation of safe spaces. The women and adolescent girls act as van guards – preventing minor girls coming into prostitution. They ensure involvement of the community, club members and adolescent boys through sessions for working on the masculinity norms. Further to this they involve the Councilors of the area on issues affecting children and the women of the area. Main achievements this year are as follows:
- 11 cases of child sexual abuse have been raised by children for redress.
- Mothers are now aware and do not marry off their girls under the age of 18 years.
- Mainstreaming of 14 girls , who used to sell goods on the footpath.
- 23 sessions on child sexual abuse were held in Khidirpur & Munshigunj and Kalighat in the period whereby steps were undertaken to enable children to express their angst and difficulties on the issue through disclosure.
- In Khidirpur, group counselling has been initiated where children are given a platform which is non-threatening, to deal with issues which might be raised during these counselling sessions. Children do not feel singled out and get to feel such instances are not isolated experiences that they have experienced but it also happens with other children.
- Community processes are being undertaken in Kalighat with children, mothers and club members so that there is no discrimination towards children who undergo sexual abuse.
- Developed and strengthened the Rakhi Group members helping them raise their voice.
In the coming years, the team will work towards following goals:
Focus 1: Access to quality education for the children in the age group of age of 6-14years
- Ensure children are less vulnerable to child labor & reduction in number of drop-outs due to child labor in the 3 intervention areas.
- Ensure all cases are protested in Kalighat and addressed, 50% of the cases are reported to the police station; follow up of all reported cases.
- Ensure 100% children under 14 years in Kalighat & Khidirpur are enrolled and retained in school.
- To ensure 100% children refrain from child marriage. Ensure children stand up against child marriage.
- To address substance abuse in children of these three areas.
- Creation of a set of safety nets for ensuring child protection and enhancing child participation within the community and around.
Focus 1: Build a protective environment for children that is free from violence, abuse and sexual exploitation
- Ensure reduction of child labor in 3 intervening wards.
- Preventive programs to be implemented in 3 intervening wards for addressing the issue of child marriage.
- Ensure linkage with the Juvenile Justice (J.J) System for addressing issues related to child protection.
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