Healing pain through dancing

Young people, mostly female, gather inside a small cottage in Kolkata, India. They twist and turn, laughing and joking as they try to dance to the music.

It seems like another jolly day at a typical dance class, except for one thing: The participants are all victims of horrific crimes.

It is a dance therapy session started by Kolkata Sanved, a human rights organization that uses dance to heal victims of violence and trafficking.

Many of the participants are young girls who were forced into sexual labor. In a country with nearly 3 million female sex workers, there are too many victimized women who were abused and extorted from.

According to an annual human trafficking report by the US state department, the Indian government "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking."

Kolkata Sanved seeks to help those who have suffered from mistreatment through these alternative therapeutic tools. Its counselors allow dance and music to reach the participants who come from vulnerable and marginalized backgrounds.

"(The dance therapy) is effective in both ways … for my body as well as my work," says one of the participants.

In addition, Kolkata Sanved holds dance performances around the world in order to raise awareness of human trafficking.

Earlier this year, 10 trainers and dancers performed in front of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sohini Chakraborty, founder of Kolkata Sanved, explained to Clinton how the therapy helped abused women return to mainstream society.

Kolkata Sanved has a more ambitious goal in mind with the 2012 London Olympics coming up. It has launched a collaboration project with another human rights organization, Living Lens, and Sadler's Wells Theater in the United Kingdom.

The dancers of Kolkata Sanved will hold "Transforming Steps" performance at the British theater to alert the world of the seriousness of human trafficking problems.

 

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