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Safe Village Programs – Preventing Child Trafficking in Rural India

My Choices Foundation is a Hyderabad-based NGO dedicated to ending violence, abuse, and exploitation of women and girls in India. They address two prevalent forms of gender-based violence – domestic violence and child trafficking – through Operation PeaceMaker and Operation Red Alert.

Operation PeaceMaker works in Telangana through thousands of empowered community women, legal teams, programs to empower young girls and encourage men to become allies in ending gender based violence. Operation Red Alert works in rural India to prevent child trafficking through a prevention-based program.

There are between 3 – 20 million commercial sex workers in India. To understand the behaviours we want to end, comprehensive research was required on what drives decisions to:

  • force girls/women into trafficking
  • make men willing to pay for sex

The aim of the research was to understand these contextual factors and the roles of specific emotions and behaviours that enable these decisions. The objective of the research was to apply learnings from cognitive neuroscience and behavioural economics to understand and influence the behaviour of at-risk families and men who buy sex. This reflected a gap in terms of the current understanding of issues.

This research was conducted with the aim of preventing trafficking by sensitising, alerting and empowering at-risk families in source areas, and to stem the demand by changing the behaviour and attitudes of men at destination areas. Key considerations during the research were to ensure that the findings and insights can easily be extrapolated into applicable interventions on the ground.

Our idea of justice is summed up in this: “Pulling drowning people out of a river is compassion. Walking upstream to find the reasons they are falling in, is justice.” My Choices Foundation decided to start with research and commissioned Mumbai-based Final Mile Consulting to conduct this research paper, which won the 2016 ESOMAR Excellence Award.

The first stage of research comprised of field visits to develop an understanding of the context, through direct interactions with at-risk families, stakeholders, migrant workers, influencers and decision making environments.

Due to social stigma attached to the issue, these conversations alone could not reveal the full picture, therefore interviews and discussions were conducted with NGOs, government agencies and stakeholders involved in different aspects of trafficking – prevention, protection and prosecution. Learning from various programs deployed and prior research conducted was also a part of the research methodology and the key output of these stages was a set of hypotheses for understanding and changing behaviour.

This research used EthnoLab™, a FinalMile proprietary research technique that involved a game that simulated the real-world context of the participants to solicit real-world reactions and behaviours. This game was the medium through which context, emotions, and mental models that influence the behaviour of at-risk families and urban clientele were studied. This was followed by an interview session designed to elicit emotions and was a crucial element in gathering insights and information about personal experiences and perceptions of trafficking and purchasing sex.

The main achievement of the research is the development of the Safe Village Program (SVP), designed to help people at all literacy levels in villages understand human trafficking and collectively prevent it from ever occurring in their villages.

Aimed at targeting intervention, Operation Red Alert (ORA) of My Choices Foundation partnered with Quantium Analytics to build a tool based on multiple sets of data to map villages highly prone to trafficking. Using this data, we conduct two-day SVPs in high-risk villages in 8 states in India: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, West Bengal and Rajasthan.

To initiate discussions on trafficking amongst children, we created a comic book translated into the vernacular language. To ensure children have retained the message, we scripted a skit on a family experiencing trafficking, which the children re-enact. It is customized to local cultural beliefs and easily resonates with the audience to be more effective.

Members of the village are given the Red Alert helpline (1800 419 8588) which responds to cases of human trafficking. Furthermore, ORA appoints volunteers called Nodal Teachers who watch over vulnerable children and reiterates the message of being alert; and Rakshaks to report urgent cases back to ORA and partnering organizations – thus ensuring the sustainability of the program.

The impact of this research on anti-trafficking NGOs is identifiable through our network of 90+ partnering NGOs which traverses state borders, i.e. a network specialized in its local geographies. In 2019, our first Anti-Trafficking Forum which brought together our NGO partners in India, Bangladesh and Nepal facilitated cooperation amongst organizations committed to ending cross-border trafficking.

Since 2016, ORA has reached over 3,400 SVPs through our research based anti-trafficking program, and we are getting closer to increasing awareness on trafficking to ensure that all children are safe from human trafficking.

About the Authors: 

My Choices Foundation is a Hyderabad-based NGO that works to give women and girls in India the choices to live lives free from violence, abuse and exploitation.

 

BREAKING THE CYCLE – Increasing uptake of HIV testing, prevention and treatment among young men in South Africa

In South Africa, adolescent girls and young women make up around 2/3rds of new HIV infections yet men account for slightly more than half of AIDS deaths. 

Whilst women are infected at a greater rate, the AIDS deaths do not follow the same linear pattern which suggests men often find out about their HIV status later (when iller) or do not take treatment compared to their female counterparts.

Population Services International (PSI) is a global NGO that implements social marketing programs on behalf of International Development donors in the healthcare sector. PSI works closely with private and public sector funders to bring life-saving products, clinical services and behavior change communications to empower the world’s most vulnerable populations to live healthier lives.

The Bill and  Melinda Gates Foundation approached PSI to understand the reasons which prevent some men from engaging with HIV services and design interventions to help better support these men. The primary objectives were to understand how to encourage men to test for their status more regularly, and how to ensure that positive men link to treatment within 30 days.

PSI partners with Ipsos, a global market research company and Matchboxology, a South African design firm to research and design interventions.

The long term intended recipients of the research results and interventions are the health delivery partners in South Africa who have been consulted throughout.

Understanding South Africa’s young men

The study started by framing the wider context of men’s lives and how HIV fits within it. To do this, researchers used an ethnographic approach in which trained moderators spent up to 1 day with 18 different men living in high-risk areas of South Africa to understand what daily life is like.

Following this, researchers spoke to 58 men using a semi-structured qualitative ‘journey to vaccination’ discussion guide, to understand men’s experience of HIV services and identify drop-out points.

Using both of these qualitative inputs, a questionnaire was designed, and 2000 men were surveyed. The analysis segmented men according to their underlying attitudes and behaviors, to tailor messages and interventions for harder to reach groups of men.

The research team worked closely with PSI and Matchboxology to ensure insights were well understood and humanized to design against. They did this using a number of methods such as bringing actors to play the roles of the different segments, and the use of video/ verbatim from the qualitative.

Matchboxology then used the segmentation to recruit men from 2 identified challenging segments and brought them to a co-design workshop. Together, the men and designer’s prototypes interventions to pilot in the field. This will be the next step of the process.

Increasing the uptake of HIV testing

Whilst specific interventions are being designed and tested, the insights alone have greatly advanced thinking behind how to approach young men in South Africa. Previously, men were thought to be stubborn and indifferent, but what the research highlighted is that the young men were scared and vulnerable but rigid gender norms prevented them from being able to share such emotions.

This has meant that rather than using fear-based communications, to try and scare men into testing (which is counter-intuitive), healthcare programmers should find other ways to engage with men. Men tend to see HIV as a death of life as he knows it, even though widely available HIV medicine means HIV is no longer a death sentence. For men living in tough conditions, testing for HIV does not represent a release, it only represents more stress.

As a healthcare providing community, we are actively looking to find ways to reframe testing as a positive and reduce the perceived burden of a positive diagnosis and this research has helped us make a major shift in how we think about men’s attitudes towards HIV.

About the Authors: 

Ipsos:

Sunny Sharma

James Bell

Melissa Levy

Jemma Reast

PSI:

Nina Hasen

Shawn Malone

MaD Award Winners Session

Kai Jimenez of United Nations Population Fund

We had many excellent entries for our Making a Difference Competition this year – selecting the best for the Awards is a very difficult task – so much research is being used so well to make the world a better place! Though that doesn’t mean, of course, that our task is done – there are still many stories of aid money being spent badly and/or ineffectively. Research still needs to be more widely used to ensure good outcomes.

We aligned the best case stories – the Award Winners – with the UN SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals) so that we can see the effect on progress with the goals in multiple areas.

For SDG #3: Good Health and Well-Being we had a study on ‘Towards an Open-Defecation-Free Clean India’, by  AV Surya and Saptarshi Guha of KANTAR. Perhaps not for the squeamish, this study demonstrated the need for long term monitoring and measurement to measure progress – cultures are not changed over-night – this is a 5-year programme! And also the requirement for on-going qualitative work and ethnography to overcome barriers to adoption – which change over time.

AV Surya and Saptarshi Guha of KANTAR India receiving the MaD award

SDG #16: is Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and we had a presentation on ‘Social Media to Strengthen Political Participation of Young People in Nigeria’, given by Anu Mohammed and Chibuike Utaka, of BBC Media Action – an excellent demonstration of how to use social media to engage youth in a subject that they were really quite apathetic about. Let’s face it – it’s difficult to engage young people in politics and voting in European countries – much more so in countries where the political climate is extremely challenging!

Gender Equality (SDG #5) was represented by a paper ‘Breaking the Silence: Uncovering Truths about Gender-Based Violence in Mongolia’, by Kai Jimenez, of UNFPA Mongolia. This was an extremely large and high-quality study designed to demonstrate the reality of a subject that no-onwants to acknowledge or talk about in Mongolia. In fact, the lack of information meant that most people could deny it existed! Kai’s UNFPA study showed the truth and started the conversation, which is the beginning of change.

We were also very pleased to include a study from the developed world. For SDG #4: Quality Education we had a Study of Young People with Dyslexia presented by Christian Vestergaard Sloth, of EPINION. Which showed that Dyslexia, if not diagnosed early, and supported well throughout the education system, can lead to very poor life outcomes even in a country like Denmark! Everyone deserves a quality education – people with dyslexia have the same levels of intelligence as everyone else – so the fact that they tend to do less well in life, means there is a failure somewhere in the education system, which should be addressed.

In summary, an excellent, thought-provoking and inspiring session which demonstrated the real value that research can bring to the Not-for-Profit sector in all areas of life. The session ended with the awards ceremony sprinkled generously with the local tartan. 

The warmth and interest received from the audience validates our belief that promoting the use of research is the right thing to do, to make the world a better place.

Speakers at the end of the Session

Identifying nudges for the growth of women in Rajasthan, India

The story of an enigmatic woman across a state border

In July 2018, we set out across to the state of Rajasthan, miles away from Mumbai, the concrete jungle. After a three-hour road journey from the main city, we reached Bhap, a little-known village in Western Rajasthan.  It is home to approximately 10,000 people of which only 4000 are women (Census, 2011).

We were here to undertake an assignment under the banner of ‘The Community Program’ (TCP) by the Market Research Society of India (MRSI).

The TCP is MR industry-funded program for young researchers to give back to the community by providing research and insights to not-for-profits that cannot typically afford it. [Other excellent case studies from TCP are Driving Change in Behaviour Management and Government Policies for the Disabled vs. Ground Reality].

The assignment was for Women Serve, a not-for-profit, operating out of Western Rajasthan, India. The NGO has been working towards advancing the status of women in six different villages specifically in the district of Paholdi.

The brief was simple – the organization was looking to establish a community park which would provide a safe place for women to improve the quality of their life and that of their family by learning various skills. This community park would also serve as a medium for women to exchange ideas and grow personally.

An answer to the key questions – Would a community park be welcomed by women and what would be the possible triggers and barriers to participate?– would then serve as a template for action for other villages where Women Serve would run the program.

When we got down to our ‘drawing board’, we realized that for Women Serve to make the right decisions about various interventions, it was essential for us to look at the woman in Bhap through a holistic lens.

This comprehensive lens was used throughout the designing and execution phases of the study. Thus, we broke up our research objectives into the following

  1. Identify the needs and motivations of women
  2. Identify their deep-rooted belief and aspirations
  3. Identify activities that she could engage in at the community park

Furthermore, our study was designed in the following way:

In our one week in the village, we did 30 qualitative interactions – a mix of group discussions as well as one on one interactions.  We also gave shape to a quantitative questionnaire, right on the field – basis our learnings from the interactions – and performed 130 interviews representing all layers of the society in the village.

For e.g. several communities i.e. castes inhabit the village – a reality that became prominent once we were on the ground. It was critical for us to get a representative response – since one’s caste dictates the way of living in the village. For instance, the higher one is in the caste ladder, the more likely one is to receive education. These are dimensions could have been easily missed had we not spent the time with the villagers.

Due to our holistic and dynamic approach, we were able to observe nuances that otherwise one would possibly skip on. For example, all our qualitative interactions happened at the woman’s house – giving us the opportunity to observe her home life and her interaction with her family members. For instance, we were able to pick up on her hesitation to admit her TV viewing patterns in front of her in-laws and husband.

We also met with influencers in the village – the head of the village (Sarpanch) as well as the hostel warden to understand the workings of the village from a third person’s perspective.

Our study provided us with key insights that gave the organization some new directions and helped make some reiterations on directions they wanted to take.

 

It is important to note that the stakeholders of the NGO live in big cities and the key sponsor is in USA.  Our research brought to life the context that otherwise would have been difficult for the NGO.

The Bhap woman since her birth is a burden to her family. Thus, being married off in her childhood – sometimes even at birth. Education is out of the question. Her life is spent catering to the needs of her family, within the four walls.

Given this social context, she lacked the self-confidence to even step out of the house, much less dream. Dreams and aspirations are words that did not seem to belong in their dictionary.

In her complex reality, her only solace is engaging in the activity of sewing. The activity is so deep rooted in her life that one can find evidence of it when one visits homes in Bhap – you will often find them displaying their work to visitors.

The impact of the activity was one of our key learnings from the study. Along with cultural rootedness, it also allowed her to work from the comfort of her own home. Moreover, most women saw it as a possible source of income. One of them said to us, “My neighbor is uneducated like me. But she knows stitching so she earns 3000 a month”. Thus, this was an avenue for her to increase her confidence and help her stand on her own two feet (financial independence) in the truest sense.

Moreover, through our quantitative learnings, we found that this activity as part of the community park was highly endorsed by women for the above reasons and more – it was an activity that was acceptable in the community and no one would raise any questions if she left her house to pursue and excel at this activity.

Knowledge sharing sessions as part of the community park was another action step for the organization. After a day’s work women are often seen visiting each other. This opportunity could be utilized to share stories and learn new skills.

Thus, the study provided key nudges that would push the boundaries slowly and steadily for the women of Bhap and go a long way in making sure that Women Serve is able to make dreams and aspirations a reality for the coming generation.

 

About the Authors:  Niyati Taggarsi, Research Executive, Ormax Consultants, India

(The study was done in collaboration with Madhur Mohan, Research Manager – Kantar)

Making a Difference at ESOMAR Congress 2019

From Monday over a thousand market researchers from all over the world arrived in Edinburgh for ESOMAR’s annual industry get-together. The only truly global data and insights summit.

The same as last year, ESOMAR Foundation has dedicated an entire session in the program on Tuesday 10th of September. The winners of our second edition Making a Difference Competition will take to the stage to showcase how the best of research has made a significant difference to Not-For-Profits.

The session will feature:

Saptarshi Guha and Surya AV from Kantar India presenting Towards an open-defecation-free, clean India

Saptarshi possesses a rich experience in evaluation & monitoring of several projects/studies in the areas of Population, Health, Nutrition, Education, Women and child development and has an expertise in delivering research values in the domain of Water & Sanitation in rural India. He has a combining background in liaising with external clients with hands-on experience in social research, offering insights to the experts of development sectors and commended for being an impressive communicator with strong work ethics.

Surya as Kantar India CEO leads a team of multi-country market researchers who generate high-quality evidence on which various decisions related to marketing and corporate strategy are based.  His team informs program strategy, monitors the performance of the programs and also measures the impact of various social marketing activities for clients like Unicef, World Bank, UN Organisations, Government of India, etc.  He has been one of the key researchers on various pulse polio studies conducted by Unicef in their efforts to successfully eradicate polio.  He is a pioneer in behaviour surveillance surveys in India.

Anu Mohammed and Chibuike Utaka from BBC Media Action Nigeria with “Social media first: leveraging digital platforms to strengthen the political participation of Nigerian youth” case study.

Anu Mohammed is the head of Research and Learning at BBC Media Action in Nigeria, which is the international charity of the BBC that uses media to inform, connect and empower people around the world. She has significant experience, spanning over a decade, conducting and managing qualitative and quantitative research projects in Nigeria’s development sector from design to implementation and data analysis leading to the delivery of impactful development projects. 

Chibuike Utaka is a content maker and editorial leader. He currently works with BBC Media Action Nigeria as Senior Producer where he leads a team of multi-platform content producers who deliver on radio and digital materials for national broadcast. When he is not at work, he creates digital contents about food and agricultural processes as a hobby.

Kai Jimenes from UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund presenting the case-study “Breaking the Silence: Uncovering the Truth about Gender-Based Violence in Mongolia”

Kai is a researcher, strategist, and all-around storyteller. She recently transitioned into an international development neophyte, working to promote gender equality in Mongolia with the UN Population Fund. Prior to this role, she built her career in the private sector specializing in development and corporate communications, business strategy and innovations, and research and analytics.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Political Economy and gives talks on branding, storytelling, and research in local and international forums.

Christian Vestergaard Sloth from Epinion, Denmark presenting “Study of young people with dyslexia – challenges and needs in the Danish education system”

Director and Head of Education and Science at Epinion within the areas of education, market research, statistics and projections. In charge of Epinions operations in Greenland working primarily within the areas of education, social affairs and labor market.

This session is part of the complimentary event for charities and NGOs called evocatively Research for Charities Seminar. If you are working in a charity and you are fairly close to Edinburgh here is your last chance to secure your free place on this link.

If you are in Edinburgh on Tuesday 10.09 make sure you do not miss the the activities we planned for you. Cannot attend the ESOMAR Congress? You can tune in to watch the live broadcast