HELP was born out of a crusade to protect vulnerable girls and women from crimes like domestic violence, trafficking for flesh trade, child prostitution, child labour and various forms of exploitation and abuse. It all started when a team of socially motivated individuals including journalists, social scientists, concerned citizens, among many others, came together and decided to promote and strengthen the anti-arrack movement initiated by women in Nellore district in the year 1992. This team involved itself intesively in the above task, which ultimately resulted in the prohibition of arrack, as declared by the state of Andhra Pradesh in 1993. The team met at Nellore later, during which it was unanimously decided that the members should form themselves into an association. Thus registered as ‘Society for Help Entire Lower and rural People (HELP)‘, the team resolved to attend to the welfare and protection of the rights of the marginalized and vulnerable women and children in the society.
The study on ‘Status of Women and Children in Prostitution’ got HELP to realize how vulnerable children are before being trafficked and even after being rescued from brothel prostitution and organized trafficking net. In 1994, the HELP team initiated its work on the issues of commercial sex workers, particularly child trafficking, in the coastal Andhra Pradesh. Since then, our focus has always been on preventing trafficking for forced sexual slavery, rescuing flesh trade victims and rehabilitating them. We do this specifically to find justice for the lot of victimized girls and women by engaging in criminal investigation and waging legal battles against the criminals. In this regard, we have highlighted the trafficking issue with its strong advocacy from the local to national and international levels.
As early as 1998, after understanding the abuse and exploitation on children and women, living in the red light area – we adopted the Right to Education (RtE) as our medium of work. By 2001, we initiated the drop-in centres in red-light areas of coastal Andhra Pradesh. More than 16 organizations joined us through NATSAP network to run these drop-in-centers for children aged 0-6 years and provide care, nutrition and prepare the children for schools. With 10 such centers being run under auspices of HELP, 25 more centres were started by the other 16 NATSAP member organizations coverinng all children of that age group in the 35 prostitution/ red-light areas of coastal AP. This prepared the children for school and accelerated HELP’s activities with children in the red-light areas. This network partnership gave a position to HELP’s understanding of the need of protecting these children from various vulnerabilities. In this journey, we were supported by various donors and partner organisations to work towards the cause of rehabilitation and prevention child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.