Submitted by Sarah Lance | Sari Bari Managing and Creative Director
Sari Bari is a freedom business. A freedom business is “business that exists to fight human trafficking and commercial exploitation.” We employ women from two red light areas who want to make the brave choice to find freedom for themselves and for their families; additionally we target women in high trafficking source areas who are vulnerable to human trafficking.
Sari Bari partners with women like Sangita for their freedom and restoration:
On the day that Sangita (name changed to protect her identity) walked through the doors of Sari Bari, she was so terrified she could barely speak. She was full of “I can’t” and “impossible” during the first months of her time at Sari Bari. Sangita wanted freedom, so she did not give up. We taught her the skills she needed to do the job and more importantly we invested in restoring her understanding of her own value. At barely 30 years old, Sangita had spent more than 15 years in the red light area, she had been told in a thousand ways that she was nothing. Six months in, Sangita began to believe that her life had value and the “I can’t” became “I will.” Sangita moved from hand-stitching, to sewing machine production, to becoming a production manager, now leading 35 other women. Sangita will tell you: “I am not sure if I really am a hero, but I know I must become a hero. Even if it’s hard to make my dreams come true, I have to do it. I have strength inside me. I can do it. Even if takes time, I can do it.”
Sari Bari invests in partnership with women who are post-rescue in red light communities. We create the opportunity for women to choose freedom and feel invested in a freedom and future for themselves and for their children. Sari Bari also believes that partnership with young women and their families in vulnerable trafficking source areas though economic opportunity prevents exploitation.
Once women have chosen to work at Sari Bari we partner with them in education, all aspects of physical and emotional health, retirement and savings, leadership training and ultimately ownership in the business as a shareholder. Partnership is foundational to our success; the women themselves run the day-to-day operations of Sari Bari and are our greatest advocates for freedom in the red light areas for women who have yet to find freedom.
Sari Bari is also committed to partnerships with other freedom businesses and NGO’s. With more than 60,000 women in brothel-based prostitution in Kolkata, we understand that to combat sex trafficking and to provide for the economic and social support needs of the women who want to exit the red light area we have to work together. No one does it alone.
This month Sari Bari is honored to partner with Free the Slaves, which works globally through community based freedom initiatives to ensure prevention and also provide for restoration for individuals who have been trafficked for labor and other purposes. Sari Bari will donate 10 percent of the profits from Saribari.com during the month of July to Free the Slaves as another step in our commitment to partnerships that provide freedom.
To support Free the Slaves and to purchase the artisan products created by the women of Sari Bari, who are bravely and beautiful living out the call to freedom please visit Saribari.com. To learn more about Sari Bari visit Saribari.org. To learn more about freedom businesses like Sari Bari visit the Freedom Business Alliance.
Editor’s note: Sari Bari is one of 12 ethical fashion brands that have teamed up with Free the Slaves in July for our 25 Days of Fashion Against Slavery summer campaign.