Aftercare is now on the agenda: introducing the “Sanrakshan Kendra” a survivor care centre for trafficking victims in Mumbai

MUMBAI, INDIA – To set a precedent for how quality aftercare can be delivered in this country and to improve the standard of care that survivors of sex trafficking receive, IJM Mumbai envisioned the creation of a Survivor Care Centre for Trafficking Victims where young girls could receive a range of rehabilitative services in one place.

In India, when a young girl is rescued from the horror of sex trafficking, she is then placed into a Shelter Home for crisis care and rehabilitation. The first ninety days of rehabilitation are often a highly tumultuous time for the girls as they begin to process the profound trauma they have experienced.

Although the time is deeply difficult, when these girls are consistently supported and given access to services such as counselling, medical care and legal advice in restorative environments, they are often more stable and able to begin the process to effectively rehabilitate. However, for many girls, consistent support and access to such services is not available and this detrimental to their rehabilitation.

The project the IJM Mumbai team envisioned was to renovate the medical room and office space while establishing two new counselling rooms within the Shelter Home for minor victims in the South of Mumbai. In April 2017 IJM Mumbai proposed this project to the governing officials and sought funding from a multinational corporation.

Setback after setback delayed the project, and there were many moments when the team wondered if their dreams of a quality Survivor Care Centre were too ambitious. However, the passion of the IJM team remained steadfast in the face of adversity, knowing that if this project were to fail, many girls now and in the future would not receive the standard of care they so desperately need to begin the process of restoration. The IJM Mumbai team persevered and their determined efforts paid off, in December 2017, the project commenced.

The rooms in which the girls had been receiving medical attention and counselling had up until now been unhygienic and uncomfortable, certainly no place for a traumatized child.

On 13 April 2018, IJM Mumbai, the Shelter Home staff, a multinational corporate donor, the Woman and Child Development Office and other stakeholders joined Mr. Pravin Ghuge, Chairperson of the Maharashtra State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, as he inaugurated the newly refurbished “Sanrakshan Kendra”- the Survivor Care Centre.

The Superintendent of the Shelter Home, spoke of her delight in the transformation of the rooms, and shared her hopes for further improvements, asking those present to support her in this endeavor. Mr. Prasad Mirkale, District Officer of Mumbai Suburban, congratulated the IJM Mumbai team on their attitude and endurance “we are involved in many projects, and with large projects such as this, typically the energy is lost as those involved encounter the challenges within the details of the project, however, this team maintained the same joy and energy from the start until the end and remained solutions focused throughout”.

The inauguration of the Sanrakshan Kendra- Survivor Care Centre is timely, just ten days after India’s Supreme Court issued significant directives to the Centre and State Governments to enforce minimum standards of care for child victims of exploitation, specifically in child care institutions and to implement individual child care plans in “letter and spirit”.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s orders, survivor aftercare is a priority and the Sanrakshan Kendra provides a quality model to act as a flagship for the social welfare system.