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Location

Red light zones of Kalighat (Ward No.76) and Khidirpur (Ward No.75) and Munsiganj (Ward No.75) in Kolkata in State of West Bengal.
Thematic Intervention: Education, Protection


Background

DIKSHA’s effort are generally aimed at creating change in externalized factors that adversely affect varying segments of civil society in different ways, resulting in a number of organizations providing a wide range of services. The uniqueness of DIKSHA, both programmatically and methodologically, lies in its stress on creating 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.

Key Issues Addressed:

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 they have ventured is in Suri in Birbhum district. This was taken up as an 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 live. The red light area is comprised of several by-lanes commonly known as Bada galli, Chota galli, Tabla galli etc.
Khiderpur on the other hand is situated in the eastern part of the city and is adjacent to the Calcutta Port. The red light area of Khiderpur is only a few kilometers away from Kalighat. The Khiderpur red light area has porous boundaries and women and children from marginalized families are becoming victims of sexual exploitation.

The aspects of child rights in the operational area is as follows:

  • Basic status of a child and her mother (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.
  • Systemic issues such as services provided and functioning of the ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) , role of Police etc.
  • Structural issues such as distribution of mother’s income which will cover role of middlemen, babus, owners of rooms etc.

Objectives

Guided by the vision of a world where all young people can access and exercise their rights – DIKSHA’s mission is to create safe spaces for children and adolescents through building up their inner strength and integrating individual development with community needs. DIKSHA creates Community Based Resource Teams (CBRT) of adolescents and youth (both boys and girls) who act as change agents 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


DIKSHA over the years has been able to develop a strong community based model for addressing the violations and preventing occurrence of abuse on children through strengthening of the Community Based Resource Team. Its main thrust is on addressing Child Protection violations through participation thus enhancing the scope of bringing change from within while working on the self of the child, her/his esteem and other facets of Life Skills as an empowering process. DIKSHA follows some unique strategy to reach their objectives. 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 to act as guards – preventing minor girls to come 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 with the councillors of the area on issues affecting children and the women of the area. Some of the achievements in the past year are as follows:

  • Sessions are being held in Kalighat, Khidirpur and Munsigunj regularly with the children focusing on the issue of child labor for generating awareness on the issue of Child labor, raising the issue with peers and guardians. 28 children (boys-14, girls-14) have been identified who are less than 14 years who are either engaged in labor or are working children. Of the 28 children, 16 (boys 11 & girls 6) are attending school (57.14%).

  • Rapport building done with corporation school teachers and they were motivated to visit Munshigunj for increasing the enrolment of children. As a result of their efforts, 2 children are receiving Kanyashri (Kalighat -1, Munisgunj -1) while studying in school.
  • There was a process of motivating 13 children from Munsigunj (including 8 from last year) in the year to be enrolled in school. 2 girls got enrolled in Kanyashri Scheme, for financial assistance.
  • Regular engagement with the employers and the Bazar Samity (in Kalighat) has resulted in a reduction of children below 14 years to be engaged in labor.
  • Sessions on Child Sexual Abuse are being undertaken with the children through the interactive processes in the 3 centers.
  • The POCSO Act was discussed with the group to help them gain a better insight to the provisions as laid down in the Act.
  • All identified cases of Child Sexual Abuse are provided counselling support to take away the sense of guilt and shame on the self, holding him/her responsible for the incident, leading towards mental well being of the child.
  • 7 children from Kalighat and 9 from Munshiganj were identified as being into substance abuse, and counselling was provided.
  • 94 and 12 employers from Kalighat and Munsigunj respectively were found who do not employ children below 14 years. This was possible owing to the processes undertaken in the three areas by DIKSHA.

Plans


In 3 areas, preventive and responsive approach taken on child abuse (violence against children - physical, mental & sexual along with substance abuse)

  • Regular sessions in the 3 centres to ensure change in attitude of guardians and children leading to increased reporting (emphasis on Khidirpur and Munsigunj) and booking of cases with emphasis on accountability of duty bearers (Kalighat).
  • Individual counselling of at risk/ abused children.
  • Home visit and family counselling in the 3 intervention area.
  • Placing of reported cases before the Police and CWC (Child Welfare Committee) for redressal.
  • Regular sessions on child sexual abuse(CSA) at the centers with children, home visit with guardians, developing comic poster and skits on the issue to be staged in the Community Programme.
  • Mapping of service providers in the realm of POCSO ACT, identifying the gaps in services and documenting them.
  • Engagement of the government stakeholders for coordination amongst the Police, Health officials, CWC (Child Welfare Committee) and other relevant authorities for addressing the issue of CSA.

Reduction in vulnerability of children in labor, reduction in number of dropouts due to child labor in the 3 intervention areas and Child Marriage.

  • Information sharing sessions held regularly with children in Kalighat, Khidirpur & Munshigunj.
  • Home visits as per need for advocacy towards non-engagement of under-14 children in hazardous labor and prevention of dropout due to income earning.
  • School visit as per need towards advocacy for enrolment/ re-enrolment.
  • Prepare a document and take it up with stakeholders (SCPCR(State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights), SSA(Sarva Siksha Abhiyan), WLCPC(Ward level Child Protection Committees) and WBEN) for advocacy regarding the situation of schools for which admission is being stalled.
  • Meetings with guardians and also Home visits for: not sending children below 14 years for work as it is illegal, sending the children to school on the basis of RTE Act which makes it free and compulsory for all children.
  • Apply for Kanyashri (government. Scheme) scholarship with the help of schools for children requiring financial support.
  • Sessions with children focussing that such marriages are illegal and they have the scope to report till 20 years to annul the marriage in the 3 areas.
  • Sensitizing community through community programmes, case study documentations to prevent early childhood marriages.

ANNUAL FINANCIAL SUMMARY

  • Right to Education
    $1,877
  • Right to Protection
    $4,221
  • Right to Participation
    $4,525
  • Administration
    $4,573
  • Total Grant Approved
    $15,196