The idea of a crises counseling center emerged with the challenge of how to prevent trafficking at the entry and exit points. It has been Prajwala’s experience that when young vulnerable girls run away from their homes and land up in the cities they are usually trafficked with promises of a better job at the bus stop or railway station that they first reach. In Hyderabad, Imlibun Bus Stand is one such procuring point where large number of touts operate and they are at the lookout for gullible girls who can be trapped. On a pilot basis it was then decided to start a crises counseling center in the nearest police station so that law enforcers can be made a part of the preventive intervention. The team in this intervention consists of a trained counselor, two barefoot counselors and the local police. There are now two centers operating in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
The team works in the following three areas:
Counseling for all women is booked under ITPPA as means to prevent them from becoming procurers, and referral services are provided for those who opt for rehabilitation. The center also gives information about viable livelihood options/alternatives, conducts capacity building workshops for law enforcers to be vigilant at entry/exit points, and facilitates rescue operations. In this way, police are becoming sensitized about women in prostitution, and a system is being developed so that any woman caught under the act would not be arrested but rather counseled..
A preventative effort that has developed in the Crisis Counseling Center involves counseling older women who are either on the verge or have already become procurers. Transforming these women contributes to the preemption of induction of new entrants. For them, the possibility of employability training and support for micro-finance loans to start up a business is offered. Opportunities have been availed by over 200 women who opted for rehabilitation, who eventually ran fast food corners, tailoring shops, telephone booths, and more. However, the opportunity has been misused in some instances where female traffickers, posed as victims, have infiltrated into the organization. The challenge of identifying imposters is huge, and the police rely heavily on the sound judgment of Prajwala’s counselors in this regard.