FOCUS ON... Rescue
We have been rescuing women and children from vulnerable situations since 1989 when our founder, Girish Kulkarni, moved by his own experience of witnessing violence against a woman, started providing day care to the two children of a sex worker. Four months later he had a class of 80 children and 28 years later our work has impacts on the lives of over 25,000 people each year, many of whose stories reflect the headlines and statistics we read about gender-based violence in India.
While we still have a strong presence in the red-light areas, ensuring there are no underage girls in commercial sex work, reducing second generation prostitution by 70% and working to prevent the spread of STIs, many of our projects seek to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable women and girls before they reach crisis point. Our Childline, Shehadhar, adoption and sex worker projects work closely with those at-risk, providing counselling and rescues as well as outreach work to spread the word about our services and support.
Over 65,000 children are reported missing each year in India. Abductions and kidnappings by family and non-family members, child marriages, runaway, trafficked and lost children are among many more cases not even reported.
Our Childline was the first toll free telephone line and listening service for children and is now recognised as the number one service in the country. We have taken on over 9,000 cases since 2003, including a landmark case which exposed 20 high profile figures as paedophiles: all were prosecuted and all received double life sentences.
We are unique in operating night patrols, around our city transport hubs and other places runaways tend to hide, every day of the year and rely upon a huge network of volunteers. Last year we received just under 90,000 calls to our helpline and managed 350 cases involving girls. These included preventing the marriage of 49 girls aged 12 to 17, locating 20 missing and four kidnapped girls and the rescue of one girl who had been trafficked.
Home of love
We work with the police and government agencies to counsel and shelter these girls some of whom are referred to our own shelter home. Our flagship project provides foster care to 250, including those rescued by Childline, children of sex workers and those orphaned by and/or living with HIV.
Our ‘Home of Love’ offers shelter, education and vocational training as well as an on-site school and HIV hospital with free and closely monitored ART. It is also home to our long-term women’s shelter.
This is one of three women’s shelters we operate alongside a 24/7 national helpline for women experiencing harassment, discrimination and domestic violence. Telephone counselling offers legal advice and support, our short-stay home gives women medical care, shelter, counselling and guidance to deal with the immediate issues and we also provide long-stay alternatives, including vocational training and education, for those unable to return home.
We have provided safe haven to over 1,000 women in Ahmednagar and have recently opened another shelter in Pune. Last year we received over 7,000 calls providing legal and medical aid to over 300 women and counselling to another 700.
Some sources report that up to 11 million babies are abandoned each year, over 90% of whom are girls. Since 2004, we have successfully rescued and saved the lives of over 500 babies. Many are left at our centre, and our Childline team and volunteers find others abandoned in public places, sadly sometimes they are found too late. Many infants who survive are very fragile and/or premature and require hospitalisation and intensive care.
Last year we rescued 51 babies finding new homes for 46, including our first six international adoptions. We are hoping to save even more when our new 50-bed adoption centre, with improved neo- and post-natal facilities and a space for unmarried mothers, opens later this year.
You can help! It will cost Rs 20,196,200 (US$312,545/UK£241,034) to keep these vital projects operating this year. Donate now to let a women or girl know you have heard #HerVoice and are 150% ready to stand by her.