This is the last part of our conversation with Ashoka Fellow Hasina Kharbhih. This post focuses on what it’s like being a women working in development. In the first part of our conversation, we talked about how Hasina and her team developed the internally recognized Impulse Model to combat human trafficking. The second part focused on Hasina’s thoughts on social entrepreneurship.
You work in anti-human trafficking — a very controversial area — and you are a woman yourself. Did you encounter resistance for your efforts?
HK: Yes, of course. The fact remains that the lack of awareness surrounding human trafficking still causes hindrances. I have faced threats and attacks, and sometimes there are communities that say, No this doesn’t happen to us; it happens to that community but not ours. To make your entry into the community, it often requires a lot of follow up — whether it’s one-to-one meetings, workshops, training, or dialogue. All this has became part and parcel of our whole initiative.
There are a lot of misconceptions about human trafficking and the women and girls victimized by trafficking. Are there any stereotypes that you would like to dispel?
HK: Human trafficking is a global phenomenon. It happens not only in developing countries, but also in developed countries. The scenario and context might differ from one country another, but it happens everywhere. My own experience working in anti-human trafficking over the years is that it is just not poor or rural women are victims of human trafficking. Impulse has intervened in cases where the women were middle class young people just looking for jobs but got trafficked. Moreover, developed countries like the U.S. are often destination points for human trafficking. Maybe human trafficking is not spoken of in other parts of the world as it is in developing countries, but there are huge masses of people being trafficked for various exploitative purposes. I hope people will realize that this is a problem that affects all of us.
Human trafficking is a global phenomenon. It happens not only in developing countries, but also in developed countries. The scenario and context might differ from one country another, but it happens everywhere.
Let’s end on a positive note. Mother’s Day is coming up. Do you have any particular women role models that you’ve looked up to?
HK: I actually grew up in a matrilineal family, so my mother has always been a very strong source of inspiration to me. She’s 86 years old now, but she’s active, she’s a working person, and she’s in business. She has always stood by her own value system and ensured that her values are not negatively affected by any kind of social pressure. That made me who I am today.
I might debate a lot with my mother [laughs]. She asks me, What is social entrepreneurship? What are you trying to do? How are you trying to change the world? But you know, at the end of the day, she’s a woman who stood on her own two feet and did things on her own. She supports what I do. I think she’s quite the role model.
This concludes our interview series with Hasina Kharbhih. Please visit Impulse NGO Network and Impulse Empower if you would like to continue the conversation with Hasina on social entrepreneurship and ending human trafficking.