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Justice and change-making for survivors of human trafficking

India Programme / Partner story

Photo: Siddarth Hazra/Kamonohashi Project

Across India, the not-for-profit organisation Kamonohashi is working to stamp out trafficking. To this end, it funds anti-trafficking projects that encourage network-building across regions, connecting survivors and grassroots groups with researchers. Together, they engage with the system on policy and its implementation, and strive for justice for survivors of trafficking.  

One of Kamonohashi’s projects is Tafteesh, a coalition of survivors of human trafficking, as well as civil society organisations, lawyers, social workers, psychologists, and researchers. Together, they pursue restorative justice for survivors in West Bengal, and work to help create stronger systems that protect men, women, and children from the poorest communities from being trafficked.

“Our vision is that communities will organise themselves and strengthen accountability of duty bearers for better local governance, law enforcement, and administration to alleviate vulnerability of vulnerable groups, and challenge the impunity of organised crime networks,” says Roop Sen, programme director of Tafteesh.

Central to Tafteesh’s work is a growing movement of ‘survivor-leaders’, which have been organised into collectives that offer counselling and assistance to other survivors. This support has increased the survivors’ confidence and awareness to such an extent that they now engage with various stakeholders on issues of their concern, and help other survivors realise and access their rights and entitlements. In addition, Tafteesh provides legal aid to improve investigations and prosecutions, has negotiated higher compensation rates for survivors of trafficking, and has increased access to better quality community-based rehabilitation programmes.

Another crucial success has been that the Government of West Bengal has made anti-human trafficking units operational. Tafteesh members engaged with the state departments to form these units, as per the provisions laid out by Union Government of India. Also, Tafteesh has encouraged a transition from institutional care to community-based rehabilitation systems – and this has ensured better psycho-social support for survivors, and has enabled them to reintegrate more fully back into their communities. And last but not least, Tafteesh is working to ensure that survivors contribute to India’s Trafficking in Persons Bill, so that all voices are heard, and services are informed by their lived experience.

Oak has been funding the Tafteesh project through Kamonohashi since 2016 as part of our India Programme, which supports efforts to sustainably improve the lives of marginalised people in West Bengal. Within the priority groups, our India Programme’s strategy focuses on meeting the needs of women and children.