More than one million girls are enslaved to brothels across India. They are enticed, deceived or kidnapped by traffickers and forced to work in India’s notorious red light districts, attending up to ten or even more men a day. They are physically abused and mentally tortured that scar them for lives.
Tumpa was born to a sex worker in Kolkata where law enforcement is stretched to the limits, child exploitation exists in epidemic proportions and the poor dwellers have no one to call. Tumpa inhabited the dismal gullies of the brothel and like any other child her age, would have had many dreams, lead a normal life, go to school and be respected by the society at large. But, her only fault…she was born into a brothel and scarred for life.
However, Tumpa chose to be the phoenix risen from the ashes. Born to a sex worker, she would have been forced into the trade to fill into her mother’s shoes, but this 28-year old chose to write her own destiny. She founded Diksha, an anti-trafficking youth-run programme in Kalighat’s red-light area working towards child protection inspiring others through her relentless efforts to provide them the option to seek a life outside the flesh trade. Tumpa adds, “This is the first such center within this area for sex workers’ children. We have introduced a TV for entertainment, music, drawing and dance classes for the youngsters and we assist them in their studies and serve light snacks when they return from school. Many of us now study and earn degrees. Being born in a red-light area doesn’t mean being doomed anymore.”
Tumpa believes every child deserves the best chance for a bright future and she is fiercely committed to ensuring children to not only survive, but thrive giving them a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm through regular mentoring, cultural support and training. She is an out-and-out champion who takes in against the world alone to save the vulnerable children.
Along with this, with the assistance from Kutchina Foundation, Tumpa has also set up a Kutchina Krittika Tumpa Adhikary learning centre in Kalighat. “I was ashamed of where I lived. I could never tell my friends about my mother. By the time I was in the fifth standard, I – like most of the girls in my area – had completely grown up. So when I tried to take a stand against the system, our own mothers thought we were biting off more than we could chew” says Tumpa.
She’s also set up a skill training & women empowerment centre in Kalighat to create business ventures for older sex workers who have been cast aside by their own. Incidentally, she also takes care of her 60-year-old retired mother – after her two brothers refused to do so. Her voice is steady and sturdy when she says, “Just because I belong to the fairer sex, doesn’t make me indispensible. I’ll make sure others like me who suffer the same plight are safe from prowling hands.”
In 2017, Tumpa who is currently working within and around Kalighat, wants to expand her services to more regions across Kolkata. She’s also looking at working with other slums where she can develop safe areas for children and give them better and safer opportunities to thrive.
Tumpa continues to live in the Kalighat red light area even though she has plenty of opportunities to leave it behind.