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Tailoring project gives survivors of Sex Trafficking the ‘Stitches of Success’

Over 100 survivors of sex trafficking now have a new livelihood skill with their sewing machines, thanks to a joint initiative between a government run shelter home in Mumbai, the Department for Women and Child Development (DWCD) and IJM.

In January 2015, IJM began partnering with a shelter home in the suburbs of Mumbai to help survivors from Bangladesh as they waited to be repatriated. The tailoring project began with three sewing machines owned by the home, two additional machines provided by IJM and 30 trainees from within the home. By the end of 2015, the project had 80 participants.

The budding seamstresses were encouraged to create clothes for themselves. “Being able to wear what they made in the course gave them a lot of confidence, the girls placed value on themselves and the project,” said Deborah Tatigiri, Government Relations officer for IJM.

By 2016, the tailoring project had grown with the support of State departments and community partners. The Department for Women and Child Development (DWCD) donated seven sewing machines and a local community partner donated another five machines bringing the total up to 21 by the end of 2016 and the number of participants to over 100.

A qualified designer along with a full time supervisor have been employed to guide the participants in technique and manufacturing processes. The participants now create a whole line of high quality products ranging from bags to door mats. These products are made available for sale through the shelter home.

At the end of 2016 the participants received statements of their earnings. The home keeps track of each girls’ earnings on a monthly basis. This, along with the monthly training stipend that is provided by Deloitte, is kept aside to be given to her when she leaves. The tailoring project is an outstanding example of how government agencies, local communities, corporations, and organisations like IJM can work together seamlessly. The superintendent of the home expressed her appreciation, “The difference between this project and many other livelihood projects was that the girls were happy.” The success of this project has inspired the DWCD to continue with their support, as well as aspire to set up similar projects in other homes.

“The objectives of the project to develop a livelihood skill for the survivors, and inculcate emotional coping and social skills have been achieved to a large extent,” said Deborah. “The strands of thread and patches of fabric have managed to refill their lives with colour,”