Indian survivors of trafficking for sexual exploitation are making audio recordings of their experiences as part of a new social media campaign that aims to reduce discrimination many of them face years after their abuse.
Campaigners estimate that of India’s 20 million commercial sex workers, 16 million of them are women and girls who are victims of human trafficking.
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Unfortunately, many survivors are stigmatized by society and they rarely share their stories publicly, explained Arun Pandey of anti-trafficking charity Anyay Rahit Zindagi.
“The narrative is built either by an activist or an official,” Pandey said.
“Here we want their stories to be told in their own voices, in their own words and with no filters. We wanted the victim to speak for herself.”
Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:
The campaign builds on a four-part video uploaded to YouTube in July. The film included voice recordings from women in four brothels in cities across India, and was intended to give viewers an insight into the real lives of sex workers.
Sex trafficking survivors are now being encouraged to submit their recorded stories, which are disseminated on social media platforms including Facebook and YouTube, according to Pandey.
They will also be played during training sessions with police to “shatter myths and misconceptions” about women who have been trafficked into the sex industry said Pandey.
“There is this general impression in society that we are in these brothels out of choice and make a lot of money,” said a 34-year-old survivor who was trafficked as a child.
In other recordings, survivors talk about drunk customers, violence, and why they found it difficult to get out of the sex industry.
One woman even recalls how police officers negotiated with brothel owners for a free night of sex in exchange for not charging them.
“I spoke out in the hope that people will understand my journey from the safety of my home to the brothels,” she said.
“Even if they just think about it for a few moments, they will begin to understand our suffering.”
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