Guria News Update January 2013

Message from the Guria Team in Varanasi: “We hope you enjoy this newsletter which gives a brief summary of achievements and progress at Guria over the last year. It covers all aspects of our work which includes running Non-formal Education Centres for vulnerable children in red light areas; Training and Empowering women at risk; Campaigning and raising awareness about human trafficking; and achieving Justice for victims through prosecuting the perpetrators of this heinous crime. We would like to thank all of our friends and supporters for their interest, commitment and help towards our struggle for human rights and dignity. We can only succeed with your support.” Non Formal Education (NFE) Centres Last year nearly 300 children attended Guria’s NFE centres, one of which is in the red light area of Varanasi, one is on board a boat on the river Ganges in Varanasi, one is in Mau district and one is further away in Madhya Pradesh. At the centres children received educational and emotional support including Maths and English lessons, computer classes and help with school work. Guria recognises art therapy and playing as important for children from difficult or traumatic backgrounds thus a strong emphasis was placed on creative activities such as clay model making, painting and dancing as well as games and fun activities. Regular celebrations and trips out were organised.

Play time at the NFE centre!

We motivated 16 new self sponsored children to get admitted into mainstream schools (total 110) whilst 40 children were sponsored to attend mainstream schools enabling vulnerable children from extremely poor backgrounds the opportunity to gain an education and a future free from exploitation. Children at NFE centre in Varanasi celebrated the holiday season and the New Year. The center shook with dhol music, played from the rooftop of the new building (Kabir House). Everyone that attended the celebration gathered on the rooftop around the drummers for dancing. The traditional Indian dessert halwa was prepared on the days leading up to the festival and served along with a Christmas cake. All who attended had a great time ringing in the New Year and celebrating the holidays! Cutting the cake!

A Diwali celebration was held at the NFE centre. Children had a great time decorating the Guria buildings with streamers, drawings, dias, clay, rangoli art, and paper chains. Music & dancing for new year! Major Rescue operation On July 27th Guria rescued 37 trafficked minor girls, forced into prostitution, in Meerut Red Light Area, a district in Uttar Pradesh, near Delhi. As with the vast majority of trafficking victims the girls had been abducted, raped, tortured and forced into prostitution. Most were under 18, many around 14 or 15, though some were considerably younger. This is a significant event for Guria and a life-changing event for the victims, who are now being rehabilitated and reunited with their families where possible. It will be a long process as most suffer from severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sadly this represents just a tip of the ice-berg in India; a conservative estimate puts the number minor girls in forced prostitution at 1.2 million. Such rescues are extremely difficult and potentially dangerous in a place where the police often collude with the criminals. This operation took several months of preparation. For the final rescue Guria had to bring two busloads of volunteers and victim families from Varanasi, 800km across the state, to Meerut. The journey took almost 24 hours by bus and then the volunteers had to hide, in a shelter, for a few days waiting for the optimum moment to stage the rescue. The raid was widely reported in newspapers and almost all the national TV channels. In total last year Guria undertook 7 rescue operations and rescued 45 minor trafficked girls from brothels. Achieving Justice Breaking the criminal nexus of traffickers-pimps-brothel keeperscorrupt officials is essential in order to suppress trafficking and forced prostitution. Tackling the perpetrators is very dangerous and a huge obstacle is the endemic corruption in the police force and judicial system. Several years ago Guria were able to achieve a landmark Supreme Court Judgment on bail rejections of traffickers. This is highly significant as previously accused traffickers could remain on bail for as long as 20 years leaving them free to continue trafficking and intimidating victims. Last year:  36 new legal cases were filed against 84 human traffickers (Total 222 legal cases against 652 human traffickers); and 30 new paralegal cases were filed (Total 89 paralegal cases) 12 bail rejections were secured (Total 240 bail rejections) 2 perpetrators were successfully convicted Guria filed a bail cancellation appeal in the Honorable Supreme Court of India.

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Public Interest Litigation was filed in the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad with reference to negligence of the provisions under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 at the implementation level. Witness protection was provided to 15 people; economic support was provided to 49 rescued victims/victim families; livelihood support was provided to 26 rescued victims/victim families

Awareness Raising Human traffickers prey on the most vulnerable children and women, often those who are struggling to survive living below the poverty line in rural areas. A majority of victims are tricked in one way or another with promises of a job in the city only to find themselves being sold to brothels. The attached social stigma is huge; it may mean they can never be accepted in society again. Last year Guria raised awareness to prevent trafficking in various ways.  A “padyatra” (foot march) was undertaken from 18th – 27th February through 11 villages in the Azamgarh range; 50 people were regularly walking with Guria raising awareness against child trafficking in rural areas.
Children in Mau at Guria’s NFE centre

Guria held a concert entitled ‘Pearls of Love’ in a village in Uttar Pradesh from 28th November to 2nd December. Marginalised artists including women in prostitution came from across five states and performed traditional art forms such as Bundeli Ghat and Rai dances. The performers who were all from communities vulnerable to trafficking gained an income from the event. An audience of 250-300 attended each day; awareness of trafficking was raised in 15-20 villages.

‘Pearls of Love’ Concert!  Public meetings were held to raise awareness about human trafficking and unsafe migration in 31 villages; 545 people attended. Street plays and folk songs were organised in rural areas for 14 days with 60 - 70 people participating each day and more observing. We visited 24 schools to raise awareness reaching 1,539 children. We organised 6 documentary shows on human trafficking; 269 people attended. Guria undertook 15 sensitisation meetings with NGOs/police/media/advocates/SSB/and other stakeholders which were attended by a total of 1,057 participants.

Other News  Guria has set up 8 brand new sewing machines at the NFE centre in Shivadspur, the red light area of Varanasi, to serve as a training facility to empower vulnerable women at risk of trafficking. Guria were featured in Paradigm Shift Project's "Breaking Chains, Building Community" short film. NGOs from India and Nepal visited Guria as part of the India-Nepal Human Liberty Initiative involving 27 NGOs from India and Nepal. Knowledge, and learning were shared on issues of trafficking, exploitation and slavery. Guria UK attended the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in Vienna, Oct 15th – 19th 2012.


Fundraising for Guria  On October 23rd Brian Millington, a friend of Guria UK, completed a 58 mile sponsored cycle from London to Brighton to raise funds and awareness for Guria. Brian arrived at Infinity Foods in Brighton to enjoy a well earned cup of tea and vegan meal with Guria friends and supporters. Guria UK raised nearly £1,500! In November, Princeton Against Sex Trafficking (PAST) held an event at Princeton University “Unite for Guria” to raise funds and awareness about human trafficking. Princeton students and Guria volunteers Azza Cohen, Katie Horvath, and Shaina Watrous spoke about their experiences at Guria. Students wrote notes in English and Hindi on postcards and mailed them to children at Guria's NFE centre as well as enjoying South Asian dance and music and henna designs. Through the sales of handmade Guria cards, PAST raised over $500. 

Brian and friends of Guria in Brighton On Saturday 24th November, Maria Stahl, a friend of Guria UK, sold hand-made jewelry and Benares scarves at the Annual Christmas Fair of the Reigate International Women's Club in Reigate, Surrey. The fair was very well attended and from sales and further donations Maria raised £500 for Guria.
A fundraiser was held in Bray, just outside Dublin, Ireland in August. The party was hosted by Anne Davis and her husband Seamus Young. The fundraiser raised Euro 1,800 for Guria and more importantly helped raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking and its root causes. Leaflets and other information were distributed to attendees along with photos of Guria and the NFE Centre.

Azza, Katie and Shaina 

Rishika’s Story Rishika is a 12 year old girl from Shivadspur, Varanasi, who was kidnapped by traffickers last year on January 23rd while she was on her way to the market place near her house. She was trafficked across Uttar Pradesh and sold to a brothel in the red light area of Meerut. She was then tortured, gang raped and brutalised for days and weeks by the traffickers, brothel keepers and pimps as a way of breaking the girls spirit. She was then forced to work as a prostitute in the brothel. The victims’ father reported his missing daughter to the police who took no action; Guria pursued the case of the missing girl from the beginning and filed several applications to higher authorities. Somehow the father came to know that his daughter had been trafficked to Meerut red light area and upon travelling there he saw his daughter. He immediately informed Guria who conducted a major sting operation on the brothel on July 27th during which 37 children were rescued. However during the raid police colluded with the traffickers enabling the criminals to steal Rishika away once again. Guria pursued the case further until they were finally able to rescue her on 25th August. Guria forced the police to register the case and is currently fighting Rishikas’ case in the district court of Varanasi. Rishika was reunited with her parents and was given victim support including witness protection and counseling; Guria will support her long journey to rehabilitation. (name changed for confidentiality) How you can help Guria is a grassroots NGO working on the frontline in the fight against human trafficking and forced prostitution thus the great majority of their time is spent in the field working with vulnerable people leaving very little time to raise awareness and support for the charity’s work. The interest and commitment of Guria’s friends and supporters is therefore crucial; and recognition outside of India is important given the dangerous nature of their work. If you have ideas for awareness raising or fundraising such as sponsored events or would simply like to find out how you could help please contact Sarah Wraight (Guria UK) and you would be welcome to join Guria’s struggle for human rights. Alternatively you may make an online donation at the Guria UK website or through contacting Sarah Wraight (Guria UK.) Donations of any size are welcome. Uttar Pradesh is one of the poorest parts of the world where even a small amount of money can make a difference. As little as £5 will support one child to attend Guria's NFE centre for one month and £10 will pay for all the school books needed by a child to attend a mainstream school. £35 will pay for one community worker to support all the children with play and learning or £60 will pay for one local teacher to enable children to gain an education at the NFE centre for one month.

Contact Guria click on the hyperlinks below… Guira India Website or Guria UK Website Email Guria UK: sarahwraight@guria-uk.org or Guria India: guriaajeet@rediffmail.com ‘Like’ Guria’s new Facebook Page! Follow the Guria Blog