In the time it took her to read a poster on a street in Calcutta, Sohini Chakraborty’s life changed forever.
They sell me my own blood for some gold and some silver.
I rinse and rinse my mouth but the treachery remains.
I am no more bride to be.
I am no more mother to be.
I am no more future to be.
She walked directly into the women’s shelter and volunteered to help. She saw children’s faces, without expression, as if the lights in their eyes had been switched off. But Sohini imagined a new future for each of them, alive with renewed energy and spirit.
Sohini Chakraborty is a dancer, choreographer and sociologist. After meeting the survivors in the shelter, it dawned on her that dance itself could be a vehicle for recovery. By encouraging girls to move their bodies, she thought they could unlock the pain trapped inside, and move through a process of healing.
“In the brothel, you have no control over your body. When you dance, you are the one giving expression to your body. You are controller of your body, of your mind, of your expression. It’s freedom.”
Sohini created Kolkata Sanved in 2004, using dance movement as an alternative approach to rehabilitation of victims of violence and trafficking. And yet she knows that rehabilitation is not enough. Kolkata Sanved also works to intercept young people at risk and rural families who might otherwise fall prey to traffickers.
Today, girls have moved through the program and re-entered society as healthy adults. Many are dance trainers themselves, helping new waves of survivors reclaim their bodies, their confidence and their lives.