Oasis India has been rebuilding lives of helpless and traumatised women from red-light areas of Mumbai by imparting skill training and finding alternative modes of employment for them
Published on March 8, 2021 at 10:45 am
Updated on April 17, 2021 at 01:10 pm
Oasis India aims to prevent trafficking and other forms of violence against women and children and assist each person to flourish in the context of their community. Its programmes fall into six core areas: Education, Skill Development, Prevention, Rehabilitation, Sports and Community. These programmes are a response to the needs of the community, through which it helps make India better for women and children.
Skill development for women from the red-light areas of Mumbai
Oasis India’s work work in Mumbai focuses on anti-human trafficking in two major red-light areas (RLA) of Mumbai viz. Grant Road and Kamatipura. Whilst brothels in Grant Road are building-based, in Kamatipura, it is lane or street-based. None the less, they all survive through pathetic living conditions with minimum sunlight, dark stairways and poor sanitation.
The outreach interventions aim at building relationships with women, pimps, brothel owners and other youth in the community and thereby create an opportunity for them to interact, seek help and take counsel to make good choices for their future and also navigate through the harshness of life.
Besides meeting with them in the brothels, the women are also invited to come to the project centre. A variety of events are organised to help them enjoy, reflect and make choices for their future. Life skills, counselling, fun celebrations and events, parenting, outings, health awareness and health care are just some of the interventions. Eventually, many women decide to leave the RLA to find alternative modes of employment.
The rehabilitation intervention is for women who choose to leave the RLA. Women have a choice of moving to the residential rehabilitation facility run by Oasis India or to a safe shelter closer to their home. Here, they can relax and find healing from their past and eventually take up training.
Oasis India’s livelihood programme helps women from the RLA to learn, grow and become self-sustainable. Although this is a long-term goal, it takes it one day at a time. It teaches them how to sit, eat, talk, travel and self-groom. Last year, 22 women from the RLA were a part of the rehabilitation facility of which 14 were trained on hairdressing and tailoring. In Mumbai, Oasis India has helped train 378 women in acquiring various skills like baking, jewellery-making, patient care etc. Its goal is to help these women from the RLA to leap into the real world with confidence and skills.
Mr Mangneo Lhungdim, Executive Director, Oasis India, says, “The women we meet during outreach in the RLA come from various backgrounds and trauma. Our approach of counselling and guiding them in their process of exploring other vocations and eventually making the decision to leave the RLA by themselves create within them a sense of responsibility for their actions. This also helps them becoming confident individuals in search of finding their place in this world. Teaching livelihood skills for these women gives them the strength to take back what they lost – their freedom and financial independence.”
Putting a full stop to her ordeal
Rajeshwari (name changed) spent most of her life bearing the consequences of the mistakes of those around her. Married at a very young age, her first husband left her and her premature baby. She moved from city to city, trying to find a place to belong to. Along the way, she was hopelessly failed by many men who promised to love her. A man who gave her the same promise gained her trust but his wife sold Rajeshwari to a brothel in Mumbai for just Rs. 10,000. She suffered the unthinkable and was deeply traumatised in the clutches of people and their false promises.
Rajeshwari was constantly abused by a man who lived with her and benefitted from the money she made. He physically abused her and often forced her to drink alcohol and take drugs with him. This greatly affected her health. In 2018, Rajeshwari left the RLA for good and reached out to Oasis India for help. She was moved into Oasis’ residential after-care facility where she could live without fear. In the process of reintegrating her into the world outside the RLA, Oasis India staff analysed the likes and interests of Rajeshwari and found her passion for gardening. She was sent to Goa for a week for training on gardening and then to Pune where she received the best training in the field on organic farming and horticulture. She was not only offered training but also counselling, life skills and after-care. This was done to help gain back her confidence and have a new beginning at life. After her skill training, Oasis staff referred Rajeshwari for jobs and later reintegrated her back at her native town.
Rajeshwari now owns a small land where she cultivates fruits such as papaya and vegetables like pumpkins, coriander, french beans, brinjal, flat beans and green chillies. She also hires workers to help as and when required and earns enough to make a decent living by selling the products in the local market. Her daughter is married and often visits Rajeshwari at her native place. As she is now in good health, physically and mentally, Rajeshwari is grateful that she did not suffer any big setbacks during the pandemic and was able to sell her products. She dreams of taking her farming large scale and plans to create a sustainable business in 2021.