On the occasion of Women’s Day, on 8th of March, 2018, Hon’ble President Ram Nath Kovind launched a pioneering program- Foundation Course- that provides motivation for skill training in survivors of trafficking. This initiative was in accordance with the central government’s ambitious and motivated Skill India Program, and was extended to the vulnerable survivors of trafficking.
This three-month, 360-hour programme, aims to work alongside the survivors to build their aptitude and ability, and prepare them for economic and social reintegration. It also provides them with sustainable opportunities that will successfully integrate them back into their communities, while giving them economic independence.
There is currently a lack of comprehensive pathways in National Skill Development Mission that enables inclusion of low literates or non-literates. This bridge course, initiated by anti-human trafficking NGO Justice and Care, provides them with a foundation that helps them access the various skill training schemes under Skill India.
“Our experience of case work with over 4000 human trafficking survivors led us to understand this gap of and the course not only acts as a perfect bridge also gives the survivors a much-needed a sense of confidence and courage to take on a future filled with possibilities,” said Ambett.
Skill India was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 2015 with the aim to train over 40 crore people in India in different skills by 2022. This population of survivors of human trafficking, which is almost 5 lakh annually, are looking at benefitting from this course.
The survivors of trafficking, who were the special invitees at the event, shared their experiences and their journey from breaking out from the criminal network to finding their lost confidence, through pre-skill training they received through the course, in the presence of the President, senior officials from government ministries and NGO leaders at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
“It is amazing how these young girls have benefited from this foundation course. They have not just left their past behind but are also looking ahead towards a good future. One of our girls’ wants to become a lawyer, one wants to join the police. Their thought processes are such that whatever I have faced, let the other girls not (be subject to the same abuse),” said Kovind.
“I appreciate the courage of these young girls. Human trafficking which was not openly discussed till sometime back is now being brought to the open. And with the Cabinet clearing the Anti-human trafficking bill, which promises a fund for rehabilitation for survivors and a 10 –year minimum punishment for perpetrators along with a hefty penalty also showcases the government’s keenness on fighting this social evil head on,” he said.
The President also met the survivors separately to listen to their stories and learn about the course and its curriculum. “Human trafficking is not only a social evil, it is a crime against humanity,” he said.
“The big challenge is that since these survivors come from very poor backgrounds, with little or no literacy, they are most vulnerable to go back to the same vicious circle of sex trade or child labour if they are not given proper means of livelihood,” said Joyita Ambett, CEO, Justice and Care.
“This foundation course which provides them with basic skills- like confidence building and social interaction acts as a stepping stone in their journey of financial empowerment, which helps break the vicious cycle,” she said.
Ambett said that it’s co-incidental that this launch is happening on the same date as the Prime Minister’s inauguration of the the pan-India expansion of BetiBachaoBetiPadhao program, for uplifting the lives of women. “This shows the government’s intention on improving the lives of women, who have subjected to years of suppression in our country,” she said.
Quotes of Survivors:
Rupa*, a survivor of trafficking, present at the event said, “The foundation course was so useful that I want it to be provided to as many survivors across homes, so that more people can benefit.”
Another survivor, Tara*, who spoke at the event said, “I want to be become a lawyer to provide justice to survivors who do not have the money to fight their cases. This course has given me a much needed direction in life.”
Ambett extended her vote of thanks to the President for whole-heartedly extending his support and being of great encouragement to the survivors of human trafficking.
* Names changed to protect the identity of the survivor.