SEVEN SAMURAI – THE WEEK
A winding flight of stairs leads one to the modest office of Shakti Vahini, an NGO fighting trafficking of women and children, in Delhi. The organisation has been the mover of some great ideas for preventing exploitation of women and children.
Shakti Vahini’s founder Rishi Kant is one of the loudest voices when it comes to fighting for women and children. He has been an activist since 1994, when he was a student of the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi. He has undergone a major transformation, from undertaking a hunger strike outside the office of former women and child development minister Renuka Chowdhury to advising the government on health and gender issues.
The activist attributes the change to Archana Tamang of UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women), who was earlier posted in India and is now in Bangladesh. Shakti Vahini set up a child line in Gurgaon along with the women and child development ministry in 2005 to rush help to any child in distress.
Shakti Vahini recently prepared a report on honour killings for the National Commission for Women. Following the report, the Haryana government has issued directions to the state police on how to deal with pleas for help from couples facing threat, and the Delhi government has amended its Marriage Act.
Besides, Kant is on the Non Official visiting member Central Advisory Committee to Combat Trafficking and has been working with the social welfare department of the Delhi government on the issue. He has also been part of the state department’s Project Slavery, which is an anti-trafficking initiative. His most recent governmental project was to prepare a plan to prevent trafficking of women and children.