April 2nd, Ram Bhat: ‘Survivors of trafficking; Rehabilitating and Re-integrating into society’

Guest Speaker: Ram Bhat

About the speaker: Ram is a Member of RC Bangalore West, he was the Secretary of the club when it was chartered in 1977! Ram describes him self as a clown, he tries to find humour in everything. He was an Engineer by training and he started his own engineering company which later moved in to construction. 19 years later he switched careers, he wanted to make conditions better for people, starting with the income women receive and can control. Since 1992 has been working on empowering women which led to his work with trafficked women, supporting the NGOs who work directly with the women. In 2012 he started Kshamata (https://www.kshamata.org/), an NGO based in Mumbai. Kshamata supports women with training and counselling and pushing them, often the women have a negative self image, love and affection is often what the women need to start believing in themselves

  • Kshamata is a Hindi word; it means ability, capability and potential, but also self forgiveness.
    • Current scenario: India is a source, destination and transit country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking
    • In India, nearly all the trafficked women are forced in to prostitution
    • Women who are rescued end up in institutions (glorified prisons); when their case is closed they are released and nearly all end up back in prostitution
    • Ram’s organisation wants to ensure the women receive:
    • Further education
    • Counselling
    • Life skills/coping mechanisms
    • Soft skills for job preparedness/culture e.g. you will work from 8-5, you can’t take a day off because you have a headache (time and quality consciousness)
    • Options in vocational training
    • Post employment follow up and support (critical; often women last only a few weeks in the first/second/third jobs)
  • Kshamata’s impact since 2012
    • Reached out to 2500 women and girls
    • 700 women engaged on a longer term basis
    • 135 women living independently
    • Repatriated Bangladeshi women
    • Provided income generation opportunities at shelter homes
    • Formed 12 group stay homes
    • Engaged with 11 shelter homes
  • Biggest challenges
    • Willingness of women to try
    • Acceptance by society e.g. its very difficult to find a home to rent in Mumbai for four women with no male in the home
  • The future
    • People around the world talking about trafficking so that something is done about it