Body Language

Dance therapy is helping survivors of sex trafficking in India to heal from the mental and physical violence they have experienced. In Calcutta's large red-light district, thousands of girls-most under the age of 15-have been sold into prostitution and are prey to customers and pimps in league with organized crime. They also suffer from high rates of AIDS. A lucky few find new homes in shelters such as those run by Sanlaap, a Calcutta-based women and children's rights group. "Trafficking victimizes 200,000 people in the region, and 3 million globally, each year," according to anti-trafficking expert Ruchira Gupta.

On a recent visit to the United States, survivors Bina Dalui and Thulan Sarkar, wearing traditional ghungroo belled anklets, joined Sanlaap's therapist in a dance called "In Search of Peace," during which Dalui sang a verse of "We Shall Overcome" in Bengali. Many of the girls at Sanlaap join a national Indian dance troupe, which leads workshops on children's rights, trafficking, and women and violence.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2005
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