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Religious back anti-trafficking efforts

Meeting outlines what's being and what more could be done to help end illicit trade

Sister Mariette Sebastian sharing experiences of working with sex workers in Kolkata Sister Mariette Sebastian sharing experiences of working with sex workers in Kolkata
  • Julian S. Das, Kolkata
  • India
  • May 9, 2011
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Several Religious congregations in West Bengal are supporting efforts to prevent the trafficking of women for the sex trade.

Their endeavors were highlighted on Saturday at a meeting on migration and trafficking in Kolkata, the state capital. Some 60 members of the Conference of Religious India attended.

The meeting decided to lend more support to organizations and individuals involved in anti-trafficking projects.

Father Jose Pullissery, secretary of the local conference, says the it is not able to set up “safe homes” for girls at risk, but can encourage congregations to help those already involved with such projects.

The Salesian priest is associated with the Sisters Adorers, who work among sex workers in the city.

Two nuns visit a center and teach sex workers knitting, sewing and bag-making. Religious congregations in the city buy the items the women produce as a way to support them.

One of the nuns, Sister Mariette Sebastian, said they also offer counseling to help them lead normal lives. “We also help mothers to prevent their daughters being dragged into the sex trade,” she added.

Father Irudaya Jothi, who directs the Udayani (awakening) Social Action Forum, lauded a special project of the Loreto nuns in Kolkata.

The “Rainbow” project started by Sister Cyril Mooney sends buses to red-light areas in the city to take daughters of sex workers to government schools some distance away where they are not easily identified.

“If not for this project, many girls might have landed up in the sex trade, said Father Jothi whose center in the South 24 Parganas district networks with NGOs to prevent women trafficking.

The Jesuit priest wants Religious congregations to make better use of their institutions such as schools and colleges.

Another center trying to combat trafficking is Seva Kendra (social center) of Calcutta archdiocese. It conducts programs to educate people on the need to prevent the illicit trade.

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