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New perspectives for the residents in the red light district of Kolkata

Bowbazaar is one of the oldest and largest red light districts in the metropolis of Kolkata in West Bengal, India. Here we work with our partner organisation South Kolkata Hamari Muskan, SKHM for short. The project aims to reduce gender-based violence and offers women the opportunity to go to a “Safe Space”. In addition, we provide health care and education and show the residents alternative employment opportunities.

The red light district Bowbazaar attracts customers with low income in particular. The money that the women receive for their "services" is therefore hardly enough to survive. Safe hygiene practices and health care options are scarce and increase the risk of disease. Women are often oppressed and financially exploited by men. 

This is how we work in the red light district Bowbazaar

Our Indian partner organisation SKHM has very good working contacts in the district. SKHM has been working in Bowbazaar for many years and has been able to win the trust of the residents. An essential part of the project with SKHM is awareness-raising work. By the end of 2022, 1,800 information brochures will be developed and distributed in the district. The aim is to provide residents with information on safe hygiene practices and governmental and non-governmental health, care and protection services. The project also has a core group of ten women and five men who will work with local clubs and community leaders to discuss issues related to the rights of older citizens, violations of human dignity, and other community concerns. A total of 36 health check-up camps will be conducted during the project in the so-called "Safe Space", a shelter for women. Counselling sessions are also offered in the "Safe Space".

One female and one male collective

Within the district, two collectives, one consisting of 50 women and the other consisting of 30 men, are formed as part of our project. Through regular meetings between the men's and women's collectives, tensions and conflicts within the project area are discussed openly and equally. In addition, the members meet to develop plans for the establishment of micro-enterprises. The group also discusses ideas for the prevention of sexual violence. The collectives further serve as contact points for other residents of the neighbourhood. The positive image created by this direct and non-violent communication between the collectives serves as a role model for other members of the community. In this way, the project promotes mutual tolerance and will reduce violence against women in the long term.

Self help groups as additional support

Another part of the project is the establishment of a total of six self-help groups of survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in District 24 Parganas North. These support groups are primarily concerned with financial inclusion, social empowerment and the protection of their members and of other survivors of violence in the community.


Project Trainings and orientation events on topics such as self-protection, non-violent communication, physical and mental health, as well as financial management and development-friendly use of New perspectives for residents in the red light district Bowba
Place/Region Bezirk Bowbazaar, Kolkata, Westbengalen, Indien
Partner South Kolkata Hamari Muskan (SKHM)
Target group Women and men who live and work in the red light district
  • Trainings and orientation events on topics such as self-protection, non-violent communication, physical and mental health, as well as financial management and development-friendly use of remittances-Trainings and orientation events on topics such as self-protection, non-violent communication, physical and mental health, as well as financial management and development-friendly use of remittances
  • Establishment of a “Safe space” for women
  • Social mobilisation
  • Development and distribution of information materials
  • Multiplier training (thematically but also in the context of social mobilization, moderation, psycho-social counselling)
  • Support for the target group in registering and applying for state health services
  • Development and publication of case studies and documentation
  • Training in the context of gender sensitisation, empowerment, violence against women and women's rights
  • Formation and strengthening of social structures and technical backstopping for the institutionalisation process
  • Support of the target group when registering and applying for state welfare services
  • Training for income-generating measures, support in the development of business plans and technical backstopping when looking for a job / starting a business
  • Psychosocial and legal advice and training in the context of stigmatisation and discrimination
Duration 2020 - 2025
Budget 47.216 Euro per annum
Sponsor BMZ Sozialstrukturförderung

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