lördag 20 december 2014

Delivery of Chistmas gifts at shelter

Driver Raju
Thanks to a bunch of good altruistic people (friends, family and Indpro) the girls in Vidyaranya's shelter home could now have a warm night's sleep, amongst other things. With the help of Inpro's driver. Raju (not only the car but his muscles as well) the gifts could be delivered in due time for Christmas. 

Thanks to all donations we were able to buy the following items: 

20 large towels
50 single bed sheets

50 blankets
156 under wears
51 tooth brushes (odd no due to packages of three)
7 toothpaste
10 shampoo bottles
40 kg flour
10 kg rice
10 kg lentils
20 bags with indian mixed snacks
10 pkg of biscuits
8 pkg of sanitary pads

20 ltr oil 
2 shower cream bars
2 skin ointment (medication against fungal infection)

Most of the items were bought on the request of shelter staff. However, medication against yeast infection was bought on my initiative as there seems to be a zero tolerance and stigma on talking about sexual (and related) diseases. As such, I wanted the girls to open up more and dare to talk about genital problems, and if necessary, ask for help and treatment. As mentioned by one former victim (which now is a staff member)
'the girls had been asking about blankets the previous night but we did not have enough blankets, now we have ...'

It was with tears in our eyes we hugged each other. Unfortunately I had to leave the girls this day in a bit of hurry. I can not wait to meet them again in the new year, which I hope will bring some joy and some good development opportunities for the shelter.  

Thank you kindly all of you who contributed and donated- and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Indpro, SCCI and Scania ...

Now I really wanted to start my work! The first thing that I had on my list, in my quest to support the sex trafficked victims, was to start contact the swedish corporate world in Bangalore. I figured that the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in India (SCCI) or Busineess Sweden could possibly and hopefully function as some type of facilitators. As it turned out, both SCCI, Indpro[1] and Scania, at the moment, seem to be interested. As mentioned by the CEO of SCCI, Sara Larsson, it would be good if the swedish corporates could come together as to build a platform and cooperate where it is possible and utilize CSR in areas where it is really needed, such as on gender issues, including sex work and trafficking.

Indpro was the first swedish company to openly express their support. CSR-responsible person at Scania, Lisen Thulin, asked for a site visit next year. So, we are holding our fingers crossed. I also called my contact up at the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) in Bangalore and we agreed to meet soon. DWCD will take part of my findings from the research that I undertook. Hopefully my research, and other research reports, can show the needs and gaps as experienced in field, and possibly present a way forward to respond to the rights of the victims.

The private sector can play an invaluable role in fighting human (sex) trafficking, and show their support to victims. The private sector can for example employ people (trainee spots etc.), raise awareness about trafficking to and through their employers, sponsor events, donate money and equipment. Indpro seem to be in the forefront to support victims of sex trafficking, but hopefully others will soon follow their good example - and they too openly express their support!

[1]. Indpro is a swedish company that focus on 'blended sourcing' for companies seeking support in IT. Indpro provide experienced consultants and project managers within a variety of services, such as system development, mobile applications, construction and design in CAD and BIM, amongst other. For more info go to: http://www.indpro.se

fredag 5 december 2014

Back in Bangalore ready to start with CSR!

Streets of Bangalore, Karnataka
After a couple of months in Sweden (during the best and hottest summer for a long time) I finally came back to Bangalore, ready to initiate long awaited activities in the area of support to victims of sex trafficking. I contacted the NGO Vidyaranya (that is running a 'Ujjawala shelter' for sex trafficked victims) and the Director D. Bhaskhar seemed happy to hear from me, however a bit surprised... I am quite sure he thought that I had forgot about them. This I definitely had not. After a meeting at the NGOs head office and after I told them about my plans, that I wanted to try to incorporate swedish companies in an effort to try to support sex trafficked victims, I made a site visit to the girls in the shelter home. I also made a visit to the NGOs other site projects and shelters. I was amazed to see their good work, and how they could have such a good spirit and hope, in such a devastating society that India actually is, at times. 

However, what truly hit me was the fact that things was more or less the same. Nothing seemed to have improved (not even the fact that both NGOs and the government is easily disclosing and publishing these intended safe houses' location). Sure, I had not been gone a very long time, but still. Despite the fact that I have seen a lot of poverty and misery, mostly in african countries, the site visits now seemed to present a worse picture. I can't really explain why. It just seemed to be so many people in, what I would say, misery. So much dirt, and sometimes such a bad smell, and when you see people living like that ... Gosh, I really realized how lucky I was! 

At the Ujjawala shelter, one girl (16 years old) told me about how she was deceived by an older lady that promised her a job. She took her on a bus to Delhi and sold her to a brothel for 25000 INR (about 3000 SEK). The girl was then abused and sold as a sex slave a couple of times a day. The girl has lost her life in a way, her family do want her back, but only after she can be of any use to the family financially, so she does not become yet another burden. 

During the evening, when I came home I threw myself at my baby girl, realizing her lucky she is, and how lucky 'we' all are.  It seems as though  the lucky never realizes how lucky the are until it is too late, and people in jobs seems to busy building their careers that hey never have any time to reflect on what is important in life. Well, who am I to say, maybe I am one of them, if not for my academic endeavors perhaps ... 

As such, I decided to start with a fundraising online for Christmas so that the girls in the shelter can feel some joy and hope again. 

tisdag 5 augusti 2014

Brief summary of research

Social justice, globalization and sex trafficking - A qualitative study on support to victims of the sex trade, in an Indian regional context. 

Karnataka has turned out to be a hotspot destination for human trafficking. Unfortunately many migrants and others fall prey for traffickers, often due to the dark sides of globalization. The overall purpose of the assessment was to reach a better understanding of available victim support services for victims of sex trafficking in Karnataka, and challenges thereof, as to better harmonise services and respond to the rights of victims. The method of research was of qualitative character with ethnographic elements, with fieldwork conducted in Karnataka, India. The research provides a mapping of victim support services (with a focus on shelters), while also examining challenges in relation to policy, strategy and implementation. 

The situation today paints out a picture of confusion in terms of a victim support system. In general, the shelters were unhygienic with poor sanitation and offered limited health services. They were also inadequate in terms of security, cooperation and coordination, as well as education and experience among shelter staff. At the moment the ‘Protective and Rehabilitative Homes’ (so-called Ujjawala shelters) are not adequate enough, and do not exclusively focus on sex trafficked victims. As such, there should be specialised assistance (with health clinics), especially since sex trafficked victims often need specialised care, psycho-socially as well as physically. 

A socially just system should understand and value human right, as well as recognise the dignity of every human being. If there is a lack of a functioning support system, and especially a holistic multi-sectoral approach, victims risk physical as well as mental health problems. A non-functioning system can also spur socio-economical injustices, as victims risk end up in poverty if they are not properly integrated back into society. As a cross-cutting socio-economic as well as political issue it undermines the health, security and safety of not only people directly concerned but the society in general as well. 

Further, another outcome of the study was also that I promised to 'do more', what I initially told myself in the beginning of my social work studies. During the research I discussed with the NGO Vidyaranya (that has established a Ujjawala shelter) that I would try to help them, hopefully in cooperation with the corporate community, by using a CSR-approach. 

måndag 4 augusti 2014

Trafficking in Karnataka, India

Girl in Koramangala area.
The Government of India does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. However, it is making significant efforts to do so. As mentioned in the U.S. Department of State's trafficking report, India is not only a source, but also a transit and destination country for trafficking. [1]

The ‘welfare state’ in India has developed over the years in a complex interplay between social, historical, political, economical and cultural factors, which is important to remember. Despite being the world’s fourth biggest economy (measured in PPP) over 260 million people live below the poverty line. [2] Reform processes have widely transformed the economic landscape of the country over the years, however, the benefits of economic growth has not reached different parts of society in an equitable way. According to scholars, such as Brysk and Maskey, [3] globalization have resulted in South Asia, and India, becoming a low-cost, labour-intensive production centre.

Brysk and Maskey [4] argues that surprisingly little international attention has been paid to human trafficking in India, although the country represents one-sixth of the world’s population and is well-known to suffer from modern forms of slavery. One reason trafficking in India is relatively invisible is that it is mostly regional and domestic (90% of trafficking in India is domestic). Another reason India’s trafficking is overlooked is that India is a rapidly globalizing democracy in which rising social inequality is increasing the ‘citizenship gap’ between rights in theory and in practice for many marginalized groups. Old traditions and gender inequality is also exacerbating women’s vulnerability to sexual exploitation. In India, corruption also undermines protection of women.

Nair and Sen [5] argues that while there are efforts to prevent trafficking at the source areas, there is hardly any efforts at the destination areas. And even if there are initiatives, it is often noticed that the interventions come to a halt after rescue operations. According to Brysk and Maskey [6] research has shown that rehabilitation measures in India are not adequate and that not all rescued victims receive rehabilitative services. Because of inadequate rehabilitation and reintegration measures, many rescued victims are also re-trafficked.

Sex trafficking is increasing in India, as well as in the State of Karnataka. It is argued by P.M Nair (one of India’s most prominent trafficking experts) that the economic boom has increased the demand for sexual services and increased the level of migrant workers, leading to a resultant increase in the supply of victims. According to news reports [7] Karnataka has turned out to be a hotspot destination for human trafficking.

In Karnataka, sexually exploited victims can receive help under ‘the Ujjawala Scheme’, which seeks, for example, to protect and rehabilitate female sex trafficked victims. As mentioned in U.S. Department of State's trafficking report[8], corruption has led to the closure of many homes under the Ujjawala Scheme. The lack of government oversight and monitoring of these shelters has led to much criticism, particularly as several cases of abuse have been discovered. Shelters have also been overcrowded and unhygienic, offered poor food, and provided limited, if any, services.

The research that I undertook (which focused on protection services and foremost rehabilitative homes for sex trafficked victims) seemed crucial in order to establish what services that actually were available, as well as needs and gaps, in terms of victim support. In the outlooks of it, it seems as though the civil society has a function as a welfare producer with a distinct role. If there is a lack of recognition and assistance from the state, the surrounding community as well as the private sector, then there will not be a sufficient victim support system in place.

[1]. U.S. Department of State (2013). Trafficking in Persons Report 2013. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. June, 2013. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State Publication. 
[2]. The World Bank (2013). India overview. Retrieved: 2013-09-26. Retrieved from: http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/india/overview.
[3]. Brysk, A. Maskey, A (2012). Global Dialogue. Rethinking Trafficking: Patriarchy, Poverty, and Private Wrongs in India. 14 (2), 42-50.
[4]. Ibid.
[5].  Nair, P. M. Sen, S (2007). 3rd Ed. ISS/ NHRC/ UNIFEM. Trafficking in Women
and Children in India. New Delhi: Orient Longman.
[6]. Ibid.
[7]. Dev, A (2013). In India, Karnataka stands third in human trafficking. Times of India. 5 Nov 2013. Kumar, S (2012). Women and child trafficking on the rise in Karnataka. TheTimes of India. 30 July, 2012.
[8]. Ibid.

söndag 3 augusti 2014

What is human trafficking?

Principles of international human rights were established after World War II, and these have guaranteed civil liberties and fundamental freedom for women – e.g. by the adoption of ‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ as well as by ‘The convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women’. However, women in South Asia have remained an exception. South Asia is a vulnerable region for trafficking because of its huge population growth, urbanization, and abject poverty. Among the South Asian countries, India has been ranked as one of the highest as an exploiter of trafficking. 

Trafficking in persons (TIP), also more commonly known as human trafficking is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them. According the UN and its protocol thereto[1], trafficking in persons is defined as:
‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organ’.
According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) trafficking in persons is a global phenomenon. Almost every country in the world is affected, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. Many countries have only recently passed, and some have yet to pass, legislation making human trafficking a distinct crime. Definitions of the offence vary, as does the capacity to detect victims, and hence support thereof.  In some countries where human trafficking is known to be a problem do not report detecting victims, and some penalize victims as prostitutes. According to one estimate 20.9 million people are victims of trafficking globally. This estimate includes victims of human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation. According to data collected by UNODC trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation accounts for 58 per cent of all trafficking cases detected globally. [2]

[1].The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (adopted by the General Assembly 15 November 2000, entered into force 25 December) A/RES/55/25.
[2]. UNODC (2012). Global report on trafficking in persons. New York: United Nations.

lördag 2 augusti 2014

The move to "Silicon Valley of India"

During the winter of 2012/ 2013, me and my (now) husband, and dog, decided that we wanted to live in a developing country. Now you may wonder why, well, we dream about living on the African continent, but we figured India could be a great country to start our expat-life in. We figured that if we manage to live in India, we can manage to live more or less everywhere. As the opportunity arose, we were quick to grab it. So, we moved to Bangalore, which often is referred to as Indias response to Silicon Valley. 
Our dog Baloo's first time flying
However, before we moved, I decided that (in case no job opportunity arose) I should undertake some more studies. So, before the move I enrolled at Malmö University, at the Faculty of Health and Society, and more specifically at the Department of Social Work. As an political scientist I always felt that I wanted to do more, and on a grass-root level. As a key focus of social work is about understanding and explaining social deprivation and social problems, and on creating opportunities for social change amongst both vulnerable individuals and groups at a more structural level, it seemed as though it could be of great use to me in my efforts to combat injustices. figured that the combination of my background and having a degree in political science as well as one in social work could be really good, and especially to the benefit of less fortunate people. Finally the time came when we moved, and we arrived in Bangalore when there was a heat peak of about 37-40° (!). Despite the heat, I soon started to enjoy my new adventures and academic life in India. Or well, after a while, it actually took some time to get 'settled in' and acclimatized. 

UNODC-work South Africa
As I had some past knowledge and experience of sex trafficking (from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) I had decided to focus on this as a subject for my Master thesis. As such, I started to carry out fieldwork in the area of sex trafficking, or more specifically on support to victims of sex trafficking, in terms of protective and rehabilitative homes, and in the State of Karnataka. I decided to focus my research on the State of Karnataka, obviously due to our move, but as it turned out the state was also a major hub with a high population density that increasingly were becoming affected by trafficking. 

Kids in the streets of Koramangala
The population of the state has increased considerably due to rapid efforts towards development and progress.[1] Bangalore has also grown into a hub for many major companies, and in the last decade the process of globalization is claimed to have enhanced the ‘push and pull’ factors that drive migrants’ desires to seek gainful employments. This is claimed to have caused an unprecedented amount of migration. Migration itself does not lead to trafficking, but trafficking often happens in the process of migration. Obviously there are other push and pull factors as well. 

The vibrant city of Bangalore first chocked me, then it amazed me. The contrast between the rich and the poor was not new to me, nevertheless, it is always sad to see. Complaints of missing nightlife, not withstanding, the city seem to have emerged as one of the most vibrant cities in India. Further more, I had no idea that in Bangalore, and Karnataka, there would be that many Swedish companies. In fact, it has been recognized that the number of Swedish companies in India almost doubled during 2006-2011. At present (2014) there are as many as 63 swedish companies registered only in Karnataka. [2]
Questions soon started to arise …Are victims being provided with livelihood skills to link them with productive employments later, or are victims subjected merely to traditional training in shelter homes, such as cleaning and cooking?  Need not to be said, but the (corporate) community should press local governance structures to monitor and account for human rights issues, such as caste/ethnic and gender discrimination, including sexual exploitation. With excitement and questions I began my work...

[1]. Census of India, 2011. 
[2]. Sweden - India Business Guide, 2014.

fredag 1 augusti 2014

Poverty, WW2, genocide and sex trafficking ...

Me  as a kiddo, and my siblings 
When I was a small child I often wondered how there could be so much poverty in the world, especially when the world was full of a lot of rich people. My mom didn't really have good answer for me, or not good enough at least. As I grew up I became determined that I should try to help less fortunate people. I would say my grandmother (who suffered a lot in Auschwitz) inspired me a lot in my efforts to try to combat injustices. The steps that I took that really brought me to where I am today has also a lot to do with two other things ...

           Rwanda presidential election 2010
Rwanda 2010

After I watched the tragic events of Rwanda, and in the movie "Hotel Rwanda", I said to my self "I am gonna go here one day". And that I did. In the summer of 2010 I did my first trip to Rwanda, and that was the year I also did my first election observation mission. However, it was when I met this incredible and ambitious boss of mine at United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in South Africa that I first worked in the area of sex trafficking, and which eventually made me step into this area once again, in India.
Port Elizabeth, South Africa, 2012