For a victim, psychological recovery is not just about healing through pain and trauma but is influenced by various other factors such as sexually transmitted infections, reproductive tract infections, addiction and HIV/AIDS. Hence psychological rehabilitation comprises of a combination of trauma counseling, peer counseling, group counseling and barefoot counseling. Hence the routine chamber-based forms of mental health intervention is not appropriate. It has to be a very flexible model customized to suit the unique individual needs.
Prajwala has thus constructed a therapeutic shelter home for victims of commercial sexual exploitation, which provides a wide range of holistic services in the areas of education, healthcare, recreation, and counseling by a dedicated team of staff. The shelter is an environment where vulnerable women and children rescued from various stages of the trafficking process can heal psychologically, be educationally and economically empowered and have access to effective channels of social reintegration. The shelter operates a 24-hour residential rehabilitation program for mental, spiritual and emotional healing and development, with two homes: Astha Nivas (children’s home) and Asha Nikethan (adult home).
Sujatha‘s father expired during her childhood, and her mother worked in a different village doing road construction labor. So she lived with her one and only brother, who was married but his wife was also working outside of the home. Sujatha‘s brother had a job but did not take good care of the family, which faced a very poor financial status. At the age of 16, Sujatha decided to find work at a local shop in L.B. Nagar. One day, the shopkeeper raped Sujatha, which continued on three more occasions. Sujatha feared disclosing the rape to her mother, because the shopkeeper threatened to kill her family members if she told what happened. During that time Sujatha became pregnant, and during her fourth month she felt extreme stomach pain. She went to the hospital with her mother and the doctor confirmed the pregnancy. When Sujatha‘s mother asked her what had happened, Sujatha explained and her mother sent a complaint to the L.B Nagar police station. Yet the case did not get resolved and Sujatha‘s brother refused to allow her to stay in the home. With nowhere to live, a superintendant informed Prajwala about the case and Sujatha was referred for rehabilitation at Asha Nikethan, where she is actively participating in all the home activities.
There are five non-negotiable guiding principles and minimum standards of care that are integrated in thought, word and action of every aspect of the safe shelter:
Once a victim has made the initial decision to rehabilitate, it is the responsibility of the program team to sustain her interest through visual manifestations, giving tangible evidence of feasible, viable options to survive with dignity and re-integrate. The stay of the victims at the home is used to help them to understand and assert their human rights, regain their self-worth and make decisions in their lives according to the options they themselves define.
Over the years, Prajwala has made significant impacts in the area of psychological rehabilitation: