Rescuing Sex-Trafficked Children
The United Nations estimates that over 27 million people are enslaved globally as forced laborers and prostitutes. To increase students’ awareness of this growing issue, Dr. Leah McMillan joined with Partner’s International to host guest lecturer, Smita Singh. Ms. Singh runs an aftercare home for underage girls rescued from forced prostitution in Kolkata, India.
Dr. McMillan, of Tyndale University College’s International Development department, hopes that in attending, “Students would have the opportunity to see what they learn in class put into practice…She is a Christian who is giving her life to help these girls…The students will be able to see how development can bring about change and bring glory to God.”
The lecture, “The Rescue and Rehabilitation of Sex-Trafficked Children”, described the process and challenges of caring for sexually exploited girls, particularly in India. Mahima Home, meaning “Glory” in Hindi, can provide shelter for 25 underage girls and is the first Christian aftercare home in West Bengal. Another home for girls over 18 has just been established. The social workers and counselors at the homes assist in the rescue of girls out of brothels, complete initial assessments, and provide girls with shelter, education, counselling, and spiritual care.
Mahima Home strives to rehabilitate and empower young girls to remain free, develop their own sustainable source of income, and cultivate healthy relationships. The girls are taught trade skills and are empowered to care for themselves. Many eventually undertake the difficult and painful task of testifying in court against those who trafficked them.
A first year Psychology student notes, “We talk about this in school on a broad scale, but this puts a face on it…it struck a nerve. I’m angry about it”. Another first year Psychology student shares, “The way the girls in the video were talking and joking, it could be any girl at this school. It brought out a ‘realness’ and a desire to act. I’m motivated to bring awareness and to be an advocate for these girls.”
Ms. Singh notes that students can get involved locally, through praying for Mahima and other organizations, raising awareness, fundraising, or offering specific skill sets to international organizations. In the midst of dehumanizing slavery, Mahima offers hope, as the girls experience “unconditional love. When they arrive, they don’t feel that they’re precious or valuable. We help them to know that they have worth. The home affirms them.”
To Contact Partner’s International, visit: http://www.partnersinternational.ca/
For more information about child trafficking, visit: http://www.childtrafficking.org/eng/publication.html