Trafficking Survivors Run Stalls At Two North 24-Parganas Fairs

Trafficking Survivors Run Stalls At Two North 24-Parganas Fairs

Published On: The Telegraph Online | Date: 07-05-2023 | Read Published Article

Two fairs in North 24-Parganas, both held in March, had hundreds of stalls and tens of thousands of visitors every day.

A stall each in the two fairs was managed by a group of trafficking survivors.


On sale were a host of items, from saris and readymade garments to jute baskets and turmeric powder.

The stalls were the latest in a series of steps aimed at financial independence for the survivors, which, rights activists said, was the key to a life of dignity.

The fair at Thakurnagar, around 62km from Kolkata, was held from March 19 to 31.

Eight women from three self-help groups based in North 24-Parganas gave the stall. At least three women were present at the stall every day.

“There were many visitors. A majority of them eventually bought something. We sold stuff worth over Rs 10,000. But it is not only about the money. The exposure was also very helpful. To be able to interact with people and influence their buying gave me a lot of confidence,” a 28-year-old survivor told The Telegraph over the phone.

She was around 16 years when trafficked out of Bengal to Mumbai. She was rescued a year later. After coming back, she got married. But her husband deserted her after coming to know about her past.

The fair at Hasnabad, around 70km from Kolkata, was held from March 5 to 11.

The stall had around 10 women from three other self-help groups. The items sold were similar.

Among the items sold were turmeric powder packs, made by a self-help group called Suhasini.

The members buy raw turmeric from a wholesale market and use a rented machine to grind it before sellingthe powder in 100gm packets. The customers are mainly shops and traders from the area.

For the first few months after starting the business in September 2021, the group sold around 50 packs per month. Now, the number has gone up to over 200 packs per month.

A survivor who helmed the stall at the Hasnabad fair said goods worth a little over Rs 9,000 were sold.

“It was a confidence booster. We plan to do this every year,” she said.

The participation of the survivors in the two fairs was facilitated by Partners for Anti-Trafficking (PAT), a network of NGOs in North 24-Parganas.

Sambhu Nanda, the programme manager with PAT, said the survivors and members of self-help groups were slowly finding their feet in the wake of the Covid pandemic.

“Many trafficking survivors had been struggling to keep their trade afloat because of the Covid curbs. The lack of transport options and loss of livelihood of other members of the family were among the main reasons for the losses they suffered. But some of them have refused to give up. Now, they are slowly getting back on their feet,” said Nanda.