Guria Annual News Update January 2014

Message from the Guria Team Over the last 12 months we have witnessed a proliferation of high profile media cases involving violence against women in India, with a remarkable number receiving media attention across the world. Widely accepted statistics suggest that a rape (including those unreported) happens around every two minutes in India, with the details of each incident too horrific to comprehend. This has meant an international spot light on India, a rising consciousness and coming together of people and pressure to tighten laws. However what does it really mean for the most vulnerable women and girls in India? Whilst this is a huge and speculative question, we can be sure that our work is needed more than ever. Over the last year, as always, we have been extremely busy, with a huge range of activities from education, awareness and community outreach to prosecuting perpetrators, sensitising officials and working with the government. We would like to say a huge thank you to all of our supporters, both those who donate and those who support our cause through being aware and following the fight against human trafficking and exploitation. We hope that you enjoy this update which highlights progress made over 2013.

Non formal education Over the year 295 children attended Guria’s non-formal education (NFE) centres of which there are four, in Varanasi, nearby Mau and also in Madhya Pradesh. Children received support with school work and with accessing mainstream schools, through regular Maths and English lessons as well as emotional and psychological support. Creative activities, including painting, clay model making and dancing were core activities, which were important in supporting children from difficult or traumatic backgrounds. Guria’s longest established and largest NFE centre is based in Shivadspur, the red light area of Varanasi. It acts as a contact point within the community and helps Guria to identify and support children who are highly vulnerable to exploitation. It is also symbolic and boldly located to send a message to potential traffickers and pimps that Guria is here. Guria’s boat school on Mansarovar Ghat in Varanasi was attended by 65 children. The boat school offers an afterschool program providing educational support as well as fun and games, and crucially keeping children in a safe

place at night. Most children who attend are the children of the ‘boatmen’ who are from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds. The boat school is equipped with computers, whiteboards, a TV, books, games, and its trademark solar panel.
'Maths, science, reading, writing, these things are important. But if this is all there is, we create ugliness around us. Art connects us to the journey, the inner journey. And that is really important.' Ajeet Singh (Guria director)

There were a number of celebrations and special events held over the year at the Shivadspur NFE centre, including: Women's Day: The United Nations theme for Women’s day in 2013 was ‘A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women.’ Guria celebrated with music, dancing and sweets; it was attended by 112 children and their mothers, many who are from the red light area. Holi, the Festival of Colours: 95 children spent the day excitedly throwing bags of “gulal” (coloured powder) over each other. When they were all fully exhausted special Indian sweets, langleta and soan papdi, were served. Diwali: This festival which celebrates Ram’s triumph over Ravan, and the return of truth and wealth, and of lighting hundreds of diyas was technically on November 3rd whilst Diwali festivities at the Guria center were in full swing by October 31st. Children enjoyed decorating the centre prior to the festival where they enjoyed a meal followed by a fireworks display. On this day for coming together, Guria hosted over 45 interns from Princeton University and other non Government Organisations (NGOs) including Where There Be Dragons and Carpe Diem. Water Park: Over the scorching summer months, Guria took children at the NFE centre on several trips to a nearby water park. The children played and enjoyed themselves so much that they were inspired to build a scale model of the water park at the NFE centre on their return.

Day out at the Water Park with children from the NFE centre
Vocational Training In order to prevent second generation prostitution or trafficking to other red light areas, Guria runs vocational training programs including fashion designing, beautician courses and computer courses for adolescent girls from communities in and around the red light area and nearby villages. The girls are empowered from learning these skills which they otherwise would have no opportunity to learn. Over the year 25 girls completed their training and received certificates from the Girls Government Polytechnic College at the behest of the District Magistrate, Varanasi. In addition we supported other children to engage in vocational training courses such as nursing and computer engineering.

Launch of vocational training program at NFE centre in the red light area of Varanasi with State Government Intervention with the Bedia Community in Madhya Pradesh
Guria director, Ajeet Singh, continued part living within a Bedia village in Madhya Pradesh which practices familybased prostitution in a drive to fully understand this practice. The Bedia are a caste which traditionally practices family-based prostitution; this complex and embedded problem must be understood through fully engaging with the community. In addition Guria’s Non-Formal Education centre in the state of Madhya Pradesh continued to offer support and opportunities to vulnerable children. Awareness raising in source areas - Indo-Nepal Border Varanasi sits close to the border with Nepal, one of the world ’s poorest countries, where poverty is endemic in rural areas. This makes women and children in Nepalese villages prime targets for traffickers, many of whom traffic the victims across the border to India. The Indo-Nepal border is highly porous and the villages along the border are easily used as transit areas for trafficking. Another aid to the traffickers is that those living on the Indian side on the border are often not aware of the trafficking of Nepali girls through their villages. Throughout the year Guria worked with communities along the border as well as the SSB or Seema Suraksha Bal (the Indo-Nepal Border Police) other NGO’s and the media to raise awareness about trafficking and sensitise local authorities. Guria continued its efforts in building a network among villages along the Indo-Nepal border and held meetings with these communities to raise awareness of human trafficking. Campaigns were conducted in schools in Siddharthanagar and Maharajganj, two districts on the Indo-Nepal border. This involved raising awareness of trafficking amongst children in schools near the border through organising activities and competitions, such as painting and sports. The children in turn relayed information back to their families and throughout the community. The school campaign also serves to create a network between teachers from schools in these districts. Awareness meeting with villagers on Indo-Nepal border

Over the year Guria conducted sensitisation meetings with the police, the media, lawyers, other NGO’s, Community Based Organisations and the people from the Panchayati Raj Institutions along the border to raise awareness about trafficking. Several times Guria arranged meetings with the SSB and school children. These meetings served a dual purpose: to sensitise the border police on the issues of trafficking and to increase school-children's level of comfort reporting crimes they may witness to the authorities.

Workshop with SSB and School Children at Nautanwa
Awareness raising in Ghazipur and Mau The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act of 1956 (ITPA) is the key piece of legislation in India used as a basis to enforce laws relating to human trafficking. However unfortunately, for a multitude of reasons, the law has come to benefit the perpetrators more than the victims, who are easily criminalised. Guria held a seminar with lawyers and judges in Ghazipur district to raise awareness about the ITPA with the District Judge was the chief guest. Guria has been legally involved in Ghazipur on a broader scale, but this event was an important step towards sensitisation. Guria organised cultural programs and street plays in rural villages of Ghazipur and Mau district where women and children are vulnerable to trafficking. These programs were very successful, in total gathering over 8,000 people from the villages, with most attendees being women. In addition to raising awareness of trafficking the events revived traditional folk arts and provided a much needed income for marginalised folk artists, many of whom have begun migrating to cities in search of a livelihood. “Samvad Kendras” for adolescent girls in vulnerable rural areas In Mau district, which is a key source area for trafficking, Guria continued to work in Samvad Kendra centres. “Samvad Kendra” translates to “local interaction,” and these centres work to prevent trafficking and rape in rural areas and to educate adolescent girls about their human, civil, health rights and other life skills. The girls, who typically have little opportunity to experience the world beyond their village, were taken out for a trip to Sarnath, an extremely holy site, where Buddha delivered his first sermon, as well as to the shopping mall and to the cinema. Over the year Guria organised several meetings with young people who volunteer to take part in rescue operations when Guria organises a raid to rescue children from a brothel they often do so with help form a large number of volunteers. The volunteers came together and discussed their ideas and experiences and their skills and capacity in rescue operations was enhanced. This is part of Guria’s innovative strategy to raise awareness amongst young people and enable them to use their energy and knowledge for a positive purpose.

Women’s meetings and campaigns Over the year Guria united women from almost 250 villages from vulnerable districts of Ghazipur, Mau, Azamgarh and Varanasi in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. One landmark event attracted an estimated 11,000 to 15,000 women who gathered for a meeting against the rising crime of rape and sex trafficking in the vulnerable districts of Eastern Uttar Pradesh. In addition Guria organised two meetings in Ghazipur District of Eastern Uttar Pradesh to unite women in support of a gang rape victim’s attempt to file a report with the police. The case was successfully filed, the accused were arrested, and Guria strategically got the bail rejected in the district court. Guria continues to fight this case in the higher court.

Women unite in support of a gang rape victim, Manju Singh, Guria Co-director pictured
Livelihood Support Guria purchased 70 goats and distributed them to women in four rural villages in Mau district where many women live below the poverty line and are vulnerable targets for sex trafficking. The goats which are cheap to keep, yield practical products and regularly produce offspring which can be sold, provide an alternate livelihood to support families. This is part of Guria’s scheme to create a ‘Goat Bank’ which provides families living on or below the poverty line with a pregnant goat, which they can easily pay back through returning one of the goat’s 4 or 5 off-spring. Rescued victim making ear rings – one of various forms of livelihood support In addition over the year Guria provided livelihood support to 33 rescued victims of trafficking in order to help them overcome the trauma as well as the huge social stigma and empowering them with alternative livelihood options.
"Inspired. Humbled. Awed. Incredibly lucky. This is what I felt in the presence of Manju, the wife of Ajeet, founder of Guria; the most dedicated, brilliant woman I have ever met. ” Jakee Cohen (Northwestern Law School, USA)

Legal work As part of Guria’s holistic approach legal cases against the perpetrators of t rafficking and child prostitution were pursued. This strand of work puts Guria directly in conflict with powerful gangs and traffickers in a state where corruption is endemic and where it often transpirs that police and officials are involved in the lucrative business of human trafficking. Guria workers have suffered numerous threats to their lives and physical attacks. Their battle for justice continues. Over last year:

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80 new Legal cases and 62 new paralegal cases related to trafficking and rape were filed against human traffickers/brothel keepers/pimps bringing the total til December 2013 to 302 and 164 cases respectively. 7 convictions were successfully achieved bringing the total to 19. The bail of 36 human traffickers/brothel keepers/pimps was rejected bringing the total to 276; this is vital as legal cases typically continue for years, so with bail a perpetrator could be free to continue abusing and intimidating victims. 12 trafficked children were rescued bringing the total to 156 Post rescue support was given to 35 victims, making a total of 101 to date.

Witness Protection Guria provided witness protection to 37 victims or victim families. There is no witness protection provided by the state so without Guria’s intervention the victims and thei r family members are at high risk of being intimidated or attacked by the perpetrators throughout their trial. Guria’s witness protection programme meant that victims were able to testify safely and accurately in court leading to a successful conviction in many cases. Working with the Indian Government  Guria participated in a meeting organised by Central Bureau of Investigation (C.B.I.) India's national law enforcement agency for the investigation of corruption cases. The event was held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi and focused on “Developing protocols on investigation and prosecution of transnational human trafficking offences in the SAARC region”. Guria were nominated to become a member of the Central Advisory Committee on combating trafficking of women and children. Guria were invited as a consultant to advise and take part in a two day sensitisation meeting for police officials held in response to the “Status Report on Human Trafficking with reference to UN PROTOCOL” held in March at Police Lines, Varanasi.

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Kids at the NFE centre
“It brought me back to my childhood. You taught me about being happy in the face of difficulties. “(Hira Dahal, Centre for Awareness Promotion, Nepal)

Anoushka’s story Anoushka, a 14 year old girl from Jaitpura, Varanasi, was tricked into believing that she had an offer of marriage. Being a girl from a poor family, and having few other options for a safe future than securing a husband, the girl agreed to marry. However having gained her trust, the man proposing marriage, raped Anoushka, filming the incident with the help of his friend. He then threatened the girl that should she tell anyone of the rape that he would make the film public. The man and his friend then sold Anoushka for around £480 to another trafficker in Mumbai. Anoushka was confined to a hotel room and raped by this man continuously for two days; in response to her protests he threatened to kill her and her family. One day, somehow Anoushka managed to escape from the hotel room and was later found by police and sent to a children’s home in Mumbai. In the meantime, Guria who had been investigating the case, arrived at the Mumbai children’s home. They were able to find Anoushka and finally bring her home to Varanasi. Back at the Jaitpura police station, the officers refused to register the crime, even after repeated pleas of the girl and her parents. Guria applied pressure on the authorities to act upon which they did register the incident. Following this Guria’s legal action against the traffickers led to the arrest and imprisonment of those involved. In addition they ensured that bail was rejected for the accused - this is important as it has previously happened that traffickers could walk free on bail for years as legal cases dragged on. Guria are now working with the girl and her family supporting her long road to recovery. Volunteering with Guria  An event titled ‘Festival of Colours’ will be held for Guria in Cambridge on March 15th, to co-incide with Holi. The event will be held in collaboration with a Cambrigde based Indian charity called Sakhya, and will involve showcasing classical dance, vocal and instrumental renditions from the different regions of India. It will raise awareness about Guria’s work, through a presentation, along with a photo exhibition, materials and information. We are looking for keen cyclists! On 27th April, thus far two volunteers, Helen Taylor and Brian Millington, will make a brave cycle journey all the way from London to Cambridge to raise funds for Guria! If you know any cyclists interested in supporting Guria please get in touch asap. Previous interns at Guria recently raised US $10,000 through crowdfunding towards establishing a ‘Goat Bank’. This innovative idea consists of a ‘bank’ of goats distributed to families living on or below the poverty line whose children are vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking. The loan of one pregnant goat to a family means they can easily repay once the goat gives birth. Goats are cheap to keep, produce milk and 3 – 5 offspring every year. This is a sustainable source of micro-lending, see: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/passion-project2014 Check out the documentary currently being made about Guria titled ‘Specks of Dust’, and ‘Like’ the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/specksofdust

For more info see:

Guira India Website Guria UK Website Guria Facebook page Guria Blogspot Contact UK: sarahwraight@guria-uk.org Contact India: guria.freedomnow@gmail.com Online donations: http://www.guria-uk

Your support Guria are a frontline charity dedicated to protecting vulnerable women and children, which leaves little time to raise attention for their work. Not only funding, but international friendships and recognition are important to Guria. Your support in being aware, spreading the word or raising funds is important. If you have ideas for awareness raising or fundraising, such as sponsored events, please contact Sarah Wraight (Guria UK). Alternatively you may make a donation online through the Guria UK website or through contacting Sarah Wraight at 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 Non Formal Education (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.

The Guria team would like to say a huge thank you for your support!