There are an estimated 12.3 million people globally who have been stripped of their dignity through human trafficking. Trafficking occurs when powerful people coerce, abduct, or deceive the vulnerable in order to gain control and exploit them. It is modern day slavery.
Freeset is located in Sonagacchi, the largest, most infamous sex district in Kolkata, India. Within a few square miles more than 10,000 women stand in line selling their bodies to thousands of men who visit daily. Many are trafficked from Bangladesh, Nepal and rural India. For others poverty has left them without options. The cries of their hungry children drive them to sell their bodies.
Freeset is a fair trade business that sells bags and t-shirts, made by women freed from human trafficking in Calcutta, India. The women are able to have a job with dignity, making products, instead of being the product. Every woman receives three times the wage they would receive in line (the prostitution line), learn to read and write, daycare for their children, have medical insurance and retirement benefits.
I am not sure when I heard about Freeset but one of the first things I thought of when hearing about human trafficking in India was my daughter. I just can’t imagine my daughter being sold in to slavery. It breaks my heart that mamas have to see this happen to their babies. They have to try to save themselves and their daughters. I was immediately drawn to this company for all the wonderful business they are doing and for helping so many women.
Before coming to Freeset , Trina was alone. She grew up on a large piece of land with her parents and three siblings. However when she was 14, she was dealt a cruel blow when her father passed away and most of the family’s land was taken. For three years Trina worked in the homes of villagers, earning enough money to feed her family. At age 17 a local milkman suggested to her mother that she go with him to Kolkata, as he had found a job for her there. He sold her for Rs.5000 (US$95) and she was forced to work in the sex trade.
Years later, while negotiating her daughters’ weddings, Trina quit the line and soon after got a job at Freeset . Now Trina boldly says that she is totally focused on her work at Freeset and her goal is to provide a decent life for her family.
In the beginning Trina could only sew seven or eight bags a day, however now she makes around 60 bags and says that she is doing well in life. The literacy training she has received has been particularly beneficial. “I can sign my name, write my address, and read bus routes, numbers and train destinations. Before the training I was not at all confident in leaving my house, but now I am very independent” she says.
At around 50 years of age, she is very grateful to be working at Freeset . “I am doing well in my life now” she says. “I get more respect in this society – that is my biggest achievement. But I do feel lonely – my husband died last year and sometimes I get scared at night because I live alone. My colleagues at Freeset keep me company whenever I need it.”
Just amazing, don’t you think? Can you imagine this life? Some days I know I have pity parties because of having to live with daily pain but really…is my pain that bad? Hardly and especially when I hear what other women are dealing with……my pain is nothing.
Now here is what you can do to help.
First, pray for Freese t and that the business continues to impact human trafficking then pray for the women so that they can find Freeset and get out of human trafficking.
Second, go to their shop and purchase something. It is a great time to go shopping for an awesome Freeset bag or bracelet. They are so beautiful and you can find one that will fit every one on your Christmas list. Their is a bag for every price point and for every person.
Here is a great bag and it is only $5.00. Can you believe that?