Education, Employment And Empowerment Of The Rescued Women Of Trafficking

By Prajoy Dutta & Harshit Singh Jadoun

Editor’s Note: Since the beginning of time, women in India have been objectified and discriminated as items for domestic use. Treated as slaves, sex objects and various other forms of derogatory labour, historically, women had never been allowed to stand up for their rights and claim their rightful position in society. Women from all walks and classes of life were denied education and employment opportunities simply because society considered them unfit and deemed it unnecessary to do so.


Various human rights and feminist movements in the recent past have tried to ensure that women aren’t objectified, discriminated and mistreated anymore and are in a position to stand up for their rights in this society. Today women are presidents of various nations and states, chief executive officers of various multinational companies, deans of world renowned universities and leaders in their field.

India herself serves prime examples of women empowerment post the twenty-first century both from urban and rural areas alike. This scenario, however, is not the same for women who are victims of commercial sex trafficking. Even after being rescued and rehabilitated back into society, these women are ostracized and rejected by society due to the nature of their former profession. As a result, they are denied education and employment opportunities which in most cases happen to be the reason they were sucked into the web of trafficking in the first place.

Thus, even after escaping from the horrors of their former lives, these women when given a second chance to live normal lives are unable to do so. A major reason for this is the lack of a proper framework and proper guidelines to ensure that these women can avail their right to an education and employment. This research paper thus aims to do the following:

1. Comment on the education, employment, and empowerment of these women from a sociological perspective.

2. List out the existing framework and guidelines and examine the loopholes in the same.

3. Create and list out new guidelines which further strengthen the existing framework, thereby ensuring that these women get the chance to live the life they have always dreamt of.

This paper talks about the education, employment and empowerment of women from a sociological perspective and critically analyses the existing schemes for the same. It is as such divided into three parts. Part one deals with the sociological perspective, part two talks about the existing schemes and guidelines implemented in five states in India and the third part discusses the possible guidelines that could be implemented in order to strengthen the existing schemes and guidelines.


Human trafficking is the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them. Commercial sex trafficking forms a major part of human trafficking. Often the women who are forced into the sex trade are held against their will. More often than not they are forced to live in hellish conditions and thus when they are rescued it is a major godsend for them. However, their ordeal does not end there. In most cases, the women are from the lowest of classes and castes, from the smallest of villages in India.

After being rescued when they are sent back to their homes and families, their families and society, in general, reject them because of the very nature of the work these women were forced to do while held in captivity. Lack of support mechanism sand proper schemes for their rehabilitation and reintegration back into society means that they are denied education, employment and thus a means to a sustainable livelihood.

In some cases, the women are smuggled into India from countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Kazakhstan. Lack of proper repatriation mechanisms in India means that they are forced to stay in India. In addition to this, they are denied education and employment opportunities. All these factors result in most of these rescued women voluntarily returning to the sex trade and thus living the hellish life they had been rescued from the first place.

Professional or vocational education and employment would empower these women in a major way. Once rescued from the horrors of their former lives, after receiving an education, they could become self-employed or wage employed. If a woman rescued from a brothel is enrolled into a vocational course such as tailoring, jewelry making or tailoring she could make a living out of it. She would end up on an equal footing with the other women in society which at the end of the day is the aim of rehabilitation and reintegration programs.

Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees every individual the right to live. It is implied that this means a right to live a good life. Thus we need to consider as a part of the social circle of our lives. The only way to achieve this is by giving these women education and making them employable. It is only then can they rise from the ashes of their past and go on to be confident and empowered women in the future.


India happens to be a source, destination and transit country for women and children subjected to forced labor and commercial sex trafficking. As a result, one can observe that every major state in India has women that are trafficked either from within the country or from abroad. In India, prostitution (the exchange of sexual services for money) is not illegal, but a number of related activities, including soliciting in a public place, kerb crawling, owning or managing a brothel, pimping, and pandering, are crimes.

As a result, the women rescued from these brothels are not treated as criminals, rather they are treated as victims. Thus one would expect that the rehabilitation and reintegration policies enacted by the state and central governments would be effective enough in order to endure that these women are allowed to re-enter society and live normal, peaceful lives again. However, this is not so. Till date, the central government has enacted and implemented two major schemes in order to tackle the problems of rehabilitation and reintegration of these women into society.

In most cases, there isn’t much focus on the education and employment of these women. The schemes as mentioned above are namely the UJJAWALA scheme and the Swadhar scheme. These schemes are implemented by the various states in India in addition to any schemes that the state government may itself envision and enact. In addition to this, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India in Budhadev Karmaskar vs. State of West Bengal directed the central and state governments to prepare schemes to provide technical or vocational training to sex workers and sexually abused women in all cities of India. The schemes would have to mention in detail about who and where this kind of training would be provided. Arrangements would also have to be made to create a market for the products created and sold by these sex workers to ensure that they earned enough to feed themselves.

However there hasn’t been any strict implementation of these schemes and directives and as a result, these women continue to suffer even after their rescue. In some cases due to the lack of employment opportunities, some of them voluntarily return to the sex trade to earn a living. Some of the major states in India where trafficking is the highest are West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh Karnataka and Maharashtra. This section of the paper thus aims to list out the schemes implemented by these state governments and the Central government and how effective they have been in focusing on the education and employment of these women.


This section aims to list out the schemes initiated and implemented by the Government of India. They are as follows:

1. SWADHAR [2002]

Swadhar is a scheme for women in difficult circumstances. This scheme was envisioned and created by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. It is implemented by the various state governments. This scheme aims to rehabilitate these rescued women socially and economically through education, awareness, skill up gradation and personality development through behavioral training etc. The vocational training and skills up gradation in this scheme is according to the practices followed by the Women Economic Program of the United Nations.

2. UJJAWALA [2007]

The UJJAWALA scheme is a comprehensive scheme for the prevention of trafficking and rescue, rehabilitation and re-integration of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. This scheme was envisioned and created by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. It is implemented by the various state governments. This scheme as mentioned above is for the rehabilitation and reintegration of the rescued victims of trafficking back into society.

One of the ways in which it aims to this is by providing education and employment opportunities to these women. Under this scheme, women and other rescued children can be enrolled in an open school system for their education. The cost of education would be borne by the state government implementing the scheme. The scheme also envisioned the need for alternative livelihood opportunities for the complete rehabilitation of these women and therefore support for vocational training and income generation activities is also provided in this scheme.

According to this scheme, Rs. 72000 per year and Rs. 100000 per year have been earmarked by for education and vocational training respectively. The Supreme Court of India in Budhadev Karmaskar vs. State of West Bengal in 2011, called for further strengthening and effective implementation of this scheme to facilitate the proper rehabilitation for the victims of commercial sex trafficking.


This section aims to list out and describe the various schemes initiated and implemented by the state governments of the top five states for commercial sex trafficking in India. In the order of decreasing crime rates, the states are as follows: West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.


West Bengal in the eastern part of India happens to be the state with the highest number of human trafficking cases in India. The scheme for the education and employment of these rescued women is as follows:

Swayamsiddha is an integrated scheme for women empowerment. The erstwhile Indira Mahila Yojana and the Mahila Samriddhi Yojana have been recast and merged into the Swayamsiddha scheme. This scheme is based on the formation of women into self-help groups. It aims for the holistic empowerment of women through awareness generation, education and economic empowerment.

Having clearly defined vocational programs for women, it also aims to empower women who would demand their rights from their family, community, and gender and also have increased access to, and control over, material, social and political resources.


Situated in the southern part of India, Tamil Nadu has remained a hotspot for trafficking activities for a long time. The scheme for the education and employment of these rescued women is as follows:


Free Supply Of Sewing Machines Scheme
This scheme is mainly for destitute poor women who are unable to be economically independent. Sewing machines are provided free of cost to these women as a measure of self-employment and rehabilitation.


Coming third in the list of highest trafficking cases in India, the schemes taken up the Andhra Pradesh government have been effective to some extent as the number of crimes related to commercial sex trafficking has dropped as compared to previous years.

The measures followed by the government are as follows:

A. Land pattas were given to women who are rescued women of trafficking.

B. Vocational training in shelter homes under the UUJAWALA scheme.

C. Service homes were set up in various districts of the state for women between 18-35 years of age. In these homes, training in various trades and courses are given.

D. In a service home in Hyderabad, some earmarked girls and women are studying three-year diploma courses in various streams. The cost of education is borne by the government.

E. In some state homes training in various trades and courses are given for self-employment and wage employment.


The crime rate in Karnataka with respect to commercial sex trafficking is presently growing at an alarming rate. The schemes adopted by the Karnataka government with regard to the rehabilitation of these women with respect to education and employment are as follows:


Stree Shakti is a scheme which aims to empower underprivileged women by forming self-help groups based on thrift and credit principles which build self- reliance and thus results in greater freedom, independence, and empowerment.


This scheme involves assisting women victims of sex abuse and trafficking by among other things, providing them financial relief and training to enable them to be self-reliant and achieve social and economic empowerment.


Maharashtra situated in Western India is a major center for human trafficking-related activities. In 1997, the High Court of Maharashtra at Bombay in Public at Large vs. The State of Maharashtra said that proper schemes had laid down by the state government in order to ensure the proper rehabilitation of the rescued women of trafficking. In various workshops and conferences held by the government since stringent measures and steps have been taken to ensure formal and non-formal education along with various vocational training is given to these rescued girls and women.



1. The UJJAWALA scheme has allocated only Rs.72000 per year for education and Rs.100000 per year for vocational training activities. With the number of rescued women of trafficking present in the country today, it is nearly impossible to educate, train and make these women employable on such a short budget.

2. The Swayamsiddha scheme implemented in West Bengal aims to benefit around 950,000 women across 650 blocks with an annual budget of Rs. 116 crores. This comes to around Rs.1200/- per woman per year. It is highly improbable that with a budget so small and meager the scheme can effectively provide formal and vocational education and thus empower these women.

3. Under the “hostels for working schemes”, the government of West Bengal has not clearly elaborated the procedures and measures to be followed and the budget to be allocated for this particular scheme.

4. The Free Supply of Sewing Machines scheme implemented in the state of Tamil Nadu is only for those women who have prior knowledge of sewing and tailoring. There is no provision to teach women how to sew and tailor clothes. Thus this scheme bends in favor of those who have prior knowledge. The budget allocation for this scheme also seems less.

5. One of the measures adopted by the Andhra Pradesh government is the enrolment of certain earmarked girls and women in diploma courses in various streams. It is not mentioned as to under what conditions are these girls and women earmarked.

6. Also up till 2013-14, the Andhra Pradesh government has spent only around Rs. 4 crores in the rehabilitation and relief of the victims of trafficking. Rehabilitation of the victims is a large and manifold process. Education is a part of this rehabilitation process. One can only speculate as to how much (or how little) was spent on the education of all these women.

7. The budget (Rs.400 lakhs) allocated in the Stree Shakti scheme is not large enough in order to effectively help and educate all the women that need it.

8. The government of Maharashtra which happens to be the state with the fifth highest number of human trafficking crimes in India has no clearly defined programme for the rehabilitation of rescued women of trafficking.


The above loopholes and irregularities are indicative of the fact that not every rescued woman is being imparted education and granted employment opportunities that would lead to her being empowered in the future. Some of the steps that the government could take into regard to further strengthen the already present measures are:

1. The Central and State Governments should reduce the reserved seats for the SC/ST category and instead create quotas and reserve a certain number of seats for the rescued girls of trafficking in government-run or government funded colleges. The age bar for women enrolling in these colleges should also be raised. A similar practice should be followed in public sector units (PSU’s) as well. This would go a long way towards empowering these women in the future.

2. The state governments should set up counselling centres for these women. These women have had a horrible past and they will need counselling from time to time while adjusting to life in a normal society. These counselling centres can be set up district wise and a telephone hotline can also be created for instant counselling advice.

3. Should a woman want to set up her own business in the long run, the central and state governments must implement schemes that can enable her to get funding for this business.

4. A national level body should be set up for the specific purpose of rehabilitation and reintegration of these women back into society. This body should comprise of legal experts, sociologists and some victims of trafficking itself. This body would be very effective in initiating and implementing schemes for the rehabilitation of these women. This body should review the existing rehabilitation schemes and policies on a yearly basis.

5. The state governments should set up a body that would keep track of all the rehabilitated women upto a period of 5 years to make sure that she is completely rehabilitated.

6. The budgets for most of the existing schemes should be raised by at least 50 percent.


India still has a long way to go towards completely rehabilitating its victims of trafficking. Being ranked as a Tier 2 country in the Trafficking in Persons Report published by the US State Department means that India is one of the foremost countries for human trafficking in the world. It is hard enough being a woman in India for most of the women of this country, it is even tougher if one is a victim of trafficking.

The only way that these women can empower themselves and dream of a worthy future is if the government joins hands with them and helps them chase their dreams.

Formatted on February 15th, 2019.

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