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ECCD

Jagruthi, accorded NGO status in 1995, works towards the intervention of sexual exploitation among children and women, and its prevention, with its premise based on the three Rs: Re-couping, Re-habilitating, and Re-integrating. With five permanent employees and project-based staff averaging 30 every year, Jagruthi targets child prostitutes, teenage pregnancies, HIV positive children, and boys involved in the sex trade up to the age of seven, on three levels: the office, the field, and the institution.

Jagruthi’s works in Bangalore city. At the office level, full-time trained counsellors are available and offer advice and options; the choices are left to the people that visit. In the field, while medical services are provided, counselling is again one-on-one, and the focus is on the dissemination of information: among them the consequences and repercussions of prostitution. It is their experience that this trade is generational, and therefore the attempt is to try and get the youngest to break out of the vicious cycle.

A number of projects, including the collaborative endeavour with CRY to zone in on the geographical location of sexually exploited children (1998-1999); boy children involved in the sex trade, and the collection of information, specifically the backgrounds of these children, revealed the horror and dire need for immediate intervention. They found that every child suffered from severe trauma, physical, psychological and sexual. There was a high incidence of drug abuse. Eroded self-esteem meant that recovery was always an arduous process, which the children could not manage on their own.

In 1998, Jagruthi set up a Home Care Centre which houses children, a large percentage of whom are under the age of seven. 10 of these are infants, some born to HIV positive teenage mothers, who have either been neglected or abandoned. This centre also provides medical and rehabilitation facilities to children who have been sexually abused, child prostitutes, and the children of commercial sex workers. There is a strong emphasis on education, and these children are encouraged and given the opportunity to attend regular schools, and pursue their dreams.

Jagruthi runs two crèches (both started in 2000), in Kalasipalyam and Shivajinagar, concentrated pockets of prostitution and trafficking. These playschools are spaces in which the children of commercial sex workers are afforded basic nutrition, play time, and other child-centred care, away from the exploitative environment of the sex workers’ profession.

Jagruthi strongly believes that rescue and rehabilitation means advocacy, and they work closely with a number of organisations, and the police, to optimise their reach. Networking with other NGOs and trusts like APSA, BOSCO, Nava Jeevana, St Michael’s Home, Samraksha, Asha Kiran, Snehadaan, Sutradhar, Seva Clinic, Makkala Sahayavani, BMST and closely allied with care and support givers like St John’s Hospital, Bowring Hospital and NIMHANS has allowed them to sustain and further develop their infrastructure.

Funding for referrals, re-integration, and medicines, would expand their capacity to serve greater numbers of their target population, which they hope to extend to include male prostitutes. Their focus, as always, is to prevent the entry of children in to the sex trade.

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