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Stigma Watch

Stigma Watch Sanjog

Stigma Watch is a psycho-social study designed and undertaken by Sanjog to explore the understanding and experiences of stigma that survivors of sex-trafficking confront and report. The study aimed to identify and understand the different types and levels of stigma as it is felt by the survivors from within and from external stakeholders with an aim to design more appropriate and effective reintegration plans. The specific questions that the study asks are:

  1. What are the levels of the various kinds of stigma – enacted, perceived, and internalized- amongst survivors? What are the implications therein?
  2. What is the impact of stigma on the survivors? How does it presently impact their life chances?
  3. Who are the significant stigmatizers?
  4. What are the existent significant coping mechanisms? What are the implications therein?

Mixed methods of study ( a combination of qualitative & quantitative study methodologies) with the main aim of exploring the extent of stigma and identifying the stigmatizers in the lives of survivors of sex trafficking living in 16 blocks of North 24 Parganas in West Bengal, were used.

The goal of this research is to develop an anti-stigma intervention enabling survivors to manage the intensity of different types stigma that they experience. The anti-stigma intervention is also expected to enable survivors while they negotiate social interactions in the most positive manner to reduce the intensity of harmful stigmatizers in their ecosystem (family, community and institutions).

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Bringing it all back home

Bringing it all back home sanjog

Bringing It All Back Home is a research study of great perseverance and keen observation of the lives of girls who were reunited with their families after having been trafficked for sex work. The uniqueness of this study lies in what it doesn’t study as much as it lies in what it does. While reviewing literature on trafficking and women a lot was found on the incidence of trafficking, the trafficking experience and anti-trafficking efforts; but very little information in terms of an in-depth and holistic understanding of experiences of survivors of trafficking who are reunited with their families was found. This study fills this gap in knowledge by beginning the study from the point where the survivors are back in their families and communities post rescue from sex work. There is very little, if any, mention of their sex work experience in this study. Instead, what the reader will find is an almost exclusive focus on life post reunification. This research looks at the following key aspects:

  1. Societal reactions to the survivor’s return and her own efforts towards dealing with those with a view to fitting back into the role/s of a daughter/ sister/ mother/ wife/ friend/ colleague etc.
  2. The physical and mental health status of the survivor as per her own account, validated by a critical medical study, and an analysis of the implications of such conditions.
  3. A policy-praxis analysis, layered through the lens of policy makers and duty bearers responsible for the protection and empowerment of survivors, critically examining the availability and accessibility of services.
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Crossing Boundaries

Crossing Boundaries

Cross border mobility in children and adolescents between Bangladesh and India is usually recorded from the perspective of trafficking, with particular focus on sex trafficking in girls. However, there has been a steady, if not growing, incidence of boys crossing borders between Bangladesh and India. Although NGOs in India and Bangladesh possess anecdotal evidence related to Bangladeshi boys in India there is very little literature or an understanding on the nature of the phenomenon, the implications on children on the move across borders, the nature of interventions by NGOs in assisting children, policy and legal implications and the way boys crossing borders are affected. Correspondingly, there is practically no information on the reverse trend – Indian boys in Bangladesh.

Crossing Boundaries explores the phenomenon of trafficking in boys and to build an understanding among the stakeholders on the issue thereby influencing state and NGO child protection policies and interventions. In particular, the study will inform policies and systems which facilitate the repatriation of boys across countries and suggest strategies to address vulnerabilities of boys to smuggling, trafficking and other forms of abuse, violence and exploitation.

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Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Crossing Boundaries

Where have all the Flowers Gone – is an evidence-based research which draws on the experiences of an anti-trafficking case management programme working in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. The programme showed that if the assistance begins from the source areas / victims’ homes, then victims are often recovered even before they are sold into brothels; traffickers in the source areas (first procurers) can be arrested and evidence from destination points can be used to strengthen the case against them. And this has significant preventive potential – because the crime is made visible to the community at large. However, the programme’s experiences also raised questions about the wisdom of survivors returning to situations of deprivations and abuse – a context that had much to do with their being trafficked in the first place.

While the study seeks hard evidence into the extent of trafficking of children and adolescents in the programme areas in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, and scans the efficacy and efficiency of intervention strategies for prevention, protection, rescue and rehabilitation, and the scalability and sustainability of effective strategies, the poignancy of its title is brought home in the case histories – the individual tragedies of stolen lives, of forsaken futures.

“Where Have All The Flowers Gone” : should be useful for development practitioners at national and international levels, researchers and academics, policy makers and influencers. In particular, this research should influence welfare policies targeting the poor in India, children and adolescents in particular, with a bias towards girls and women.

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Let’s TalK – The potential of Social Communication

Crossing Boundaries

Study implemented by ORG Centre for Social Research in West Bengal and A C Nielsen in Bangladesh (both divisions of The Nielsen Company)

In a rights-based context, communication is at the heart of child protection programming, whether in generating awareness of issues, building knowledge, challenging societal and political attitudes, or in facilitating convergence of efforts, and in making policy and action responsive to ground realities.

Let’s Talk (2007) studies IEC tools developed in West Bengal and Bangladesh over the five years prior to publication of the study, as well as the processes of development, implementation, monitoring and dissemination of such tools by community based organizations. 73 NGOs participated in the study which identified, amongst other findings, that there was negligible development of communication tools by rural NGOs, that the existing tools under-represented particular issues and aspects, and that there was a marked lack of audience segmentation.

The study, implemented by two research divisions of The Nielsen Company, includes a pilot exercise on developing social communication tools for anti-trafficking programmes and makes a number of recommendations which point to areas of growth and intersectional collaboration.

Apart from informing programming strategies, this study could be of special interest to corporate houses, especially media and advertising agencies interested in bridging the gap between communication in development and the more ‘mainstream’ media.


Perilous passages: migration, mobility and child protection issues in Malda, West Bengal

Crossing Boundaries

In Malda, one of the poorest districts of West Bengal, migration, triggered by poverty and legitimized by social practice, is a ubiquitous phenomenon. Facilitated by an organized but unregulated racket of agents and touts, it is a process that represents risk-taking and a no-other-choice strategy for most migrants, with individual agency being exercised within asymmetrical networks of power. In this disenabling environment, children, children lead insecure lives, and – especially those from Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe and minority backgrounds – often fall prey to the lure of trafficking under the guise of a better life and income earning opportunities.

Apart from studying the patterns of mobility and migration and their nexus with organized systems of exploitation, Perilous Passages – highlights the efforts and interventions of local community based organizations in bridging critical gaps in the system.

The document is essential reading for those interested in linking larger macro issues of development with ground realities, and is recommended for development professionals, researchers and policy makers.


Bond free – A study on boys rescued from bonded labour

Crossing Boundaries

Bond Free is an action research that critically examines the process of rescue and rehabilitation of 17 children of West Bengal from bonded labour. Citing shoddy government responses and inept civil society interventions, Bond Free reveals a situation that not only overlooks the best interests of children, but exposes them to a second line of exploitation within the family and community.

Conducted with the purpose of strengthening critical gaps in existing systems and procedures of rescue and rehabilitation so as to protect children from being further exploited, the study clearly shows that the continuum from rescue to rehabilitation cannot simply be viewed in a social vacuum but needs to be understood in the context of human poverty, compulsive migration and community values.

Bond Free provides a material for reflection and purposive action for development practitioners working on child right issues, as well as for civil servants and policy makers in the region.


Foot soldiers at the frontier: community based organizations against trafficking

Crossing Boundaries

A reflexive learning tool, Foot Soldiers At The Frontier documents a child protection project that risks working with grassroots partners who, with no prior interest or experience in combating trafficking in children and adolescents, innovate a host of locally relevant preventive strategies and actions that tackle trafficking at its very source – in families and local communities.

A process document, Foot Soldiers At The Frontier aims to inform and educate NGOs and CBOs in the region, as well as support and funding agencies, offering not so much copy book perfect results, but possibilities for future action.


Man, Woman and Child

Crossing Boundaries

Man – the provider, the protector, the penetrator and the predator – as per the classical / traditional paradigm of masculinity.

Woman – the receiver, the nurturer, the penetrated and the victim – as per the classical / traditional paradigm of feminity.

Child – the dependant, needing protection, provisions and guidance – as per the classical / traditional paradigm of childhood.

Man, Woman and Child studies how this triangle of paradigms is not just ever-present in red-light areas– as centres for brothel-based prostitution are popularly termed – but is also imbibed in the way prostitution is understood by organizations implementing anti-trafficking and child protection programmes in red-light areas. And how these paradigms are woven into the positions taken by such organizations – thereby influencing the manner in which interventions are designed.

Apart from recommending capacity building with such organizations to help them explore their own locations / biases about prostitution and the programmatic implications about such standings, the study also puts forward the need for a separate, in-depth study on the factors of resilience for women in prostitution and their children, in order to inform effective and efficient psychosocial programmes for these population groups.

It also recommends capacity building of organizational management towards ensuring community participation in red-light area programming.