When Somebody’s Mama founders envisioned what this organization was going to accomplish, we knew without a doubt that our four areas of focus were going to be maternal healthcare, education, economic empowerment, and trafficking.
Human trafficking, or modern day slavery, is a heartbreaking but solvable problem in the U. S. and around the world. Equality Now, an organization that advocates for the rights of women and children globally, offers some sobering statistics:
Trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation
is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.
This, despite the fact that international law and the laws
of 134 countries criminalize sex trafficking.
At least 20.9 million adults and children
are bought and sold worldwide into commercial
sexual servitude, forced labor, and bonded labor.
About 2 million children are exploited
every year in the global commercial sex trade.
Almost 6 in 10 identified trafficking survivors
were trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Women and girls make up 98% of victims
of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
In Sonagacchi, the largest red light district in Kolkata, India, multiple sources estimate that in a few square miles, 10-11,000 women and children are slaves to the sex industry. (You can watch the Academy Award winning documentary, Born into Brothels, about the children of Sonagacchi here.)
In 1999, Kerry and Annie Hilton moved from New Zealand to the heart of Sonagacchi. In 2001, with the help of an Indian doctor named Priya Mishra, they opened the doors of Freeset, a factory where former sex slaves find freedom and opportunity. Freeset “uses an ‘upside down’ model that turns the normal principles of running a business on their head. Businesses generally choose the best people for a job and pay them the lowest possible wages. Here, women are employed on the basis of their need for freedom, rather than their qualifications—many have had little or no schooling. They are trained and then paid well above the going market rate. The transformation in women's lives is clearly apparent, simply because they've been given a chance.”
As business grew, the need for a formalized program that would meet the needs of the whole person was set in place, and the Tamar Project was born. Through the Tamar Project, women who are transitioning from life in the sex industry receive healthcare, literacy and numeracy instruction, budgeting classes, educational support for their children, and one-on-one and group therapy.
We are so excited to announce that this quarter, we will be partnering with the Tamar Project through Freeset Trust to help fund some crucial needs. Our goal this quarter will be to raise $9,000. Your generosity will help fund some very specific training for the social and medical workers who directly influence the women of Sonagacchi in health-related care and group therapy sessions. Pip Rea, director of the Tamar Project, has expressed the need for three specific areas of training for the social workers and medical staff: trauma-centered care, foundations of counseling, and systematic counseling. Our donations will pay for 27 staff members to undergo this training from experts in the field who are equipped to handle the specific trauma related to the sex trade. Once the training is complete, every single woman who walks through the doors of the Tamar Project center will benefit from the emotional and psychological support of highly trained workers.
Our hearts are heavy for the women of Sonagacchi, and it is with humility and respect that we accept the challenge of combatting the evils of human trafficking. Perhaps more than our other areas of focus, this seems the hardest to wrap our minds around when we try to answer the question—how on earth can we be a part of the solution?
We go back to what we always say—doing good is simple. We can each do our part. We hope you’ll join us.