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Swayangsiddha: Rallying youths to stop human trafficking & child marriage

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Darjeeling and Kalimpong Folk Festivals: Celebrating Hills’ Heritage

Tucked away in a green, serene, and often surreal, surrounding on the lap of the Eastern Himalayan Range, Darjeeling is not only a requiem for tired urban souls, and the undisputed Queen of the Hills, but much more… To begin with, it is home to 14 indigenous communities who make up an amazing mosaic of pristine traditions, rituals and folk cultures that have, unfortunately, remained virtually undiscovered by the world outside.It was with this long-felt need to showcase the rich intangible cultural heritage (ICH) of the Hills that the Rural Craft and Cultural Hubs (RCCH) project of the Government of West Bengal hosted its first editions of Darjeeling and Kalimpong folk festivals in April and May 2017, respectively. Around 200 local artists participated in the event at Chowrasta Mall in Darjeeling on 5 and 6 April, while over 400 local artists and craft persons took part in the festival at the Mela Ground in Kalimpong on 27 and 28 May. An exhibition on Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, whic…

Campaigning for Reproductive Health Rights of Women in UP & Bengal

Ipas Development Foundation (IDF) is working in India since 2000 to facilitate women’s access to safe and legal abortion options by strengthening the public health system to provide safe and quality abortion services. But why is it such an important issue when our country is grappling with countless public health challenges? Here are some data to ponder upon. One pregnant woman dies every two hours in India due to complications related to unsafe abortion. And even if she survives, she may get inflicted with myriad complications, both physical and mental. In other words, chances of her being caught in a state of morbidity are too high. India legalized abortion in 1971 (Medical Termination of Pregnancy or MTP Act), putting the onus of decision-making on the woman concerned, but people are still largely unaware of it and the price of ignorance is being paid by our mothers with their lives! Add to it our socio-cultural environment that is, almost by default, biased towards procreation fro…

Cross-Border Trafficking: Building Awareness in India, Nepal & Bangladesh

Human trafficking or trafficking in persons (TIP) is a crime that has acquired a global dimension and emerged as a major challenge for all developing countries. More than 500 trafficking flows were detected around the world between 2012 and 2014 alone, where 71% of the victims were women and children. In this perspective, India is a source, transit as well as destination for human trafficking. However, 90% of it all happens within India. Incidentally, sharing long and porous borders with Nepal and Bangladesh on its northern and eastern borders, respectively, stopping cross-border trafficking (CBT) is a major challenge for the government and the society.

In 2016-2017, UNODC assigned Contact Base the task of developing prevention and advocacy material to combat cross-border trafficking and organizing two events each in Nepal, Bangladesh and India to spread awareness on the issues concerned. The main objective was to strengthen the capacity for prevention and advocacy.

The campaign was tit…

Be Alert Raise Alarm: Awareness Campaign to Prevent Human Trafficking

115 locations, 19 districts, 3 states… and a travelling caravan.
Contact Base in collaboration with the U.S. Consulate General Kolkata and Shakti Vahini, launched the Be Alert Raise Alarm #stophumantrafficking campaign on 17 March, 2017 at Kolkata. The objective was to generate awareness on recent trends and modalities of human trafficking and ways to reduce vulnerability. The campaign covered West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar.

The Campaign partners were: State Child Protection Society, Government of West Bengal, Department of Women Child Development & Social Security, Government of Jharkhand, Directorate of Social Welfare and Department of Labour, Government of Bihar, Police in all three states, more than 70 NGOs across three states and more than 28 schools and colleges.

A vehicle was transformed into a travelling caravan designed in local languages with thematic messages, news clippings on the issue and helpline numbers.

The Caravan carried the team, theatre group, posters, leaflets,…

Woodworld Wonders

It was still spring and the lukewarm weather of North Bengal came as a welcome respite for Norwegian Eivind Falk and his two British companions Robin Wood and his daughter Jojo Wood. Walking down a dry mud track of Kushmandi in the district of Dakshin Dinajpur on a March afternoon in 2017, Robin said that the temperature at his home, a few miles from Birmingham, would be around minus four degrees Celsius at that time… “and it’s very, very wet too, with a constant drizzle and wind,” said Jojo. Eivind was smiling… after all he was here before — in 2016 to be precise.

The West Bengal government’s Department of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises & Textiles (MSME&T) had developed 10 Rural Craft Hubs (RCH) with 3,000 traditional handicraft artists in nine districts of the state between 2013 and 2016. The initiative was undertaken in partnership with UNESCO and the main purpose was to conserve and revive different forms of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) of West Bengal. In Februar…