When Freedom Firm opened a field office in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh in 2014, the closest government shelter home was in Agra, 439 kilometres away. When girls were rescued in Allahabad they faced eight hours of travel before reaching the home. The distance was not the only problem. The corrupt Superintendent of the home created birth certificates stating they were major instead of minor and released girls back to their perpetrators.
Since the home was so far away, the police and the court in Allahabad did not follow up with the cases, nor did they keep the Superintendent accountable. The challenging logistics made it difficult for the police to escort the girls from Agra to Allahabad for their court dates which sometimes occurred twice a week. The travel also made it tough for Freedom Firm social workers to connect with survivors for counselling sessions.
In 2017 a new aftercare home was built in the city of Allahabad. During the last year and a half, we applied multiple times for permission to access the home. We are thrilled that in May the government has granted our social workers permanent access to the girls we rescue in the Allahabad Shelter Home! Our social workers will now be able to conduct counselling sessions, life skills training, and to offer legal advice and support.