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Prerana began its work to protect the rights, choices and dignity of the children in the red-light district in 1989. In time, we stepped out and adopted the role to advocate for any child in need of care and protection, vulnerable to being a victim of human trafficking.

 

Upholding our vision, a recent step in this direction is our project SANMAAN. Implemented in 2016, our Sanmaan team has been working towards the protection and development of the children found/ rescued from beggary.

In the past two years, Sanmaan has intervened in the rehabilitation of 185 children, 57 of whom belong to the Pardhi Community (The Marathi word ‘Pardhi’ translates to ‘Hunters’). As our team closely worked with this particular community, we better understood the massive discrimination this community faces.

The Pardhi Community, a tribe found in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat has been a wandering tribe, struggling to find a place in the mainstream. The British, under the Criminal Tribes Act, 1871, notified Pardhis as born criminals. The act was repealed in 1949, but the stigmatization stays even today. The Pardhis have been Denotified as a nomadic tribe and as Scheduled Tribe (ST) in Maharashtra.

Prerana has been working with Pardhi families originally from Solapur, Beed, Osmanabad, Yavatmal and Amravati, most of which don’t own any property in their originating village. Many work as agricultural labour on minimum wages and are subjected to discrimination by the higher classes. Even the Police regard them as an ‘ex-criminal tribe’.

Branded as criminals and exposed to minimum employment opportunities in their village, a number of Pardhis migrate to cities like Mumbai to work as daily wage earners, or odd jobs like selling gajaras, etc. The cost of living is high in big cities, and the earning next to negligible. So, they are forced to live in inhumane conditions with shelters made of plastic, with no access to water or sanitation. Often, these illegal shelters are demolished and the families keep moving.

Due to the above circumstances, most children have no access to education and sometimes resort to begging with family. The few children enrolled in schools usually drop out due to the lack of legal documents.

Imagine a child with no identity, safety or opportunities; think of the vulnerability s/he is exposed to!

Prerana’s Sanmaan Project attempts to help these children have a future by ensuring they have a safe space to stay and learn. The children are either enrolled in an Ashram school (a residential school based in the villages) or a local school in the city. A few children have also been enrolled into Government Institutions.

As a society, there is not much we can do to change the past, but in our small way, we certainly can work towards making things a little better for such groups that are completely sidelined in the development process.

Over the years, we have planted smiles on the faces of several children, we only hope that we are able to do the same for the children of the Pardhis and help them attain dignity.

We encourage questions, comments and thirst for knowledge. To know more about our Sanmaan Project, contact us at fighttraffickingindia@gmail.com.

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