Sohini Chakraborty

Ashoka Fellow
India,
Fellow Since 2003
Kolkata Sanved

Citation

This profile was prepared when Sohini Chakraborty was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Sohini helps girls who are child prostitutes recover stability and confidence. She sees that healing is best achieved through expression that is physical, because the abuse suffered is demonstrably physical and causes many girls to disassociate from their bodies. Using dance and cultural expression as the core, Sohini's approach joins group facilitation, improvisation skills, rights education, and interpersonal communication. Taken together, these elements allow child prostitutes to overcome or in some measure to move past the trauma and abuse of their early years. The aim is to provide a fresh approach to the existing rehabilitation programs and to negotiate opportunities for these children to integrate into mainstream society on an equal footing.
The program first helps children come to terms with their past. They are then able to negotiate for their rightful place in society and for their rights with the "external" audience. Through self-choreographed performances and presentations made at seminars, workshops, and media events, these children shed their victim status and are able, as equals, to initiate and sustain dialogue with other children and adults.
Sohini equips citizen groups and state-run institutions with her techniques, and these groups, in turn, play a significant role in counseling and rehabilitation sessions with the children. Sohini's techniques help the children become comfortable with themselves, come to terms with their sexually violent past, and gain maturity and self-confidence. The children themselves ultimately become advocates for their cause; for example, some of the older students in Sohini's group–Sanved–have matured into trainers and peer educators.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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