My Choices Foundation
My Choices Foundation works to break the cycle of violence, abuse and exploitation suffered by women, children and families across vulnerable communities in India . The organization began in 2012 as a Hyderabad-based NGO providing free, grassroots services to victims of domestic violence and their families. Since then, their mission has expanded to include two main operations - Operation PeaceMaker focused on eliminating domestic violence and Operation Red Alert to eradicate sex trafficking in India by 2025. My Choices Foundation harnesses the power of local women to become agents of change in their own communities. With the help of technology provided by NASSCOM’s Big Tech Program, My Choices developed a mobile application to enable real-time reporting of suspicious activity related to trafficking, as well as a Vulnerability Mapping tool that uses big data and artificial intelligence to identify hotspots of human trafficking across rural India. My Choices Foundation trains and provides jobs for women at their PeaceCrafter Center, where they make a variety of handicrafts, such as scarves, throws and pillow cases. 100% of the proceeds are then channelled back into the organization’s activities. They also partner with over 100 Indian and international NGOs to jointly implement programs and receive pro bono legal, analytical and other services from involved companies and organizations.
From the end of March 2020, My Choices Foundation has been distributing essential goods (rice, mustard oil, potatoes, salt, sugar, soap, etc.) to more than 13,000 people in 500 rural communities across India. They especially focused on migrant workers and daily wage laborers who suffered greatly from the lack of income during the nationwide lockdown. My Choices Foundation has also been raising awareness about the sharp increase in cases of domestic violence, rape, and attempted rape from March 2020 onwards, pointing to a report by the National Commission for Women. They ramped up their counseling services, offering these sessions online for the first time. They also launched an additional hotline number and a digital awareness raising campaign, “Mothers Without a Choice.” The anti-sex trafficking arm of their operations sensitizes local populations to the issue of child trafficking and exploitations through community radio networks as well as through digital campaigns, ‘Knowledge Series’ videos, webinars, and social media. They also provide increased access to essential services, including through a national anti-sex-trafficking helpline.
Theory of Change
Empowering women and girls to identify risks in their own communities and equipping them with the knowledge and skills to effectively intervene helps them to become agents of change, building a supportive environment for survivors and contributing to the eradication of gender-based violence.
Operation PeaceMaker aims to reduce domestic violence in India through thousands of local women who go door to door educating women on their rights and running awareness workshops for communities and schools. Operation PeaceMaker also provides victim and family counseling in order to break the cycle of abuse. They provide free legal support and a short home stay for survivors of domestic violence, with vocational and skills training available as well. Moreover, My Choices Foundation set up The Lotus Fund, a startup fund for women who have decided to start a new life free from abusive relationships. Through this fund, they provide financial support for essential items, advances on rental, and skill and vocational development. Operation Red Alert focuses on mass media campaigns and established the first national helpline for sex trafficking. They designed and adopted a targeted anti-trafficking intervention initiative called the Safe Village Program. During this intensive program, volunteers speak about the signs of potential traffickers and potential at-risk people as well as the strategies the traffickers adopt to lure them in. They also developed a behavior changing comic book about a young girl who fights human trafficking challenges in her community. The comic book has been translated into five languages and is distributed to everyone who attends the Safe Village Program.
To this day, My Choices Foundation has trained 232 PeaceMakers, impacted over 10,000 families through counseling, and educated close to 100,000 women on their rights and legal protections. They have also conducted over 4,600 Safe Village Programs, educated 25 million people in rural communities on anti-sex trafficking, and distributed 12 million educational comic books. Their national helpline has received over 47,000 calls. In 2020 alone, they helped rescue more than 330 children from trafficking and safely reunited them with their families. They also provided gender sensitization training for more than 2,000 police personnel, while their radio programs during COVID-19 successfully reached over 10,000,000 people across 100 villages. Finally, their second annual Asian anti-trafficking forum was held in July 2020, creating a platform for implementing partners, government officials, law enforcement agencies, strategic partners and other stakeholders to discuss various issues around human trafficking.