Smt. Bandari Jayamma received M A Thomas National Human Rights Award 2014

The M A Thomas National Human Rights Award 2014, was given away to Smt. Bandari Jayamma, at the function held on 20 September 2014 at the Osmania University Center for International Programme, Hyderabad.

Dr. J.A. Oliver welcomed the Hon’ble Gusts and the delegates for the Award Function. Adv. Pratap Reddy, in his presidential remarks briefly explained about the genesis of the M A Thomas National Human Rights Award, the founder Dr. M.A. Thomas and his contribution to the society through Vigil India Movement and Dr. Mathews George Chunakara, Hon. Director, VIM explained about the selection process, jury’s recommendation and also read the citation that honours Bandari Jayamma.

Dr. A. Chakrapani, Hon’ble Chariman, Andhra Pradesh State Legislative Council, then presented the prestigious M A Thomas National Human Rights Award 2014.  Dr. Chakrapani extended his greetings to Jayamma for her effortless service in protecting human trafficking and promoting the human dignity among the victims of trafficking and also called upon the people’s movement to join with Jayamma to uphold the dignity of the vulnerable community.

In the presence of Dr. A. Chakrapani, the VIM felicitated Adv. K. Pratap Reddy, National President, VIM for his contribution to the Vigil India Movement since its inception as one of the founding trustees and as a President since 1994.  Justice K. Ramaswamy, former Justice, Supreme Court of India delivered a felicitation address.   

Bandari Jayamma expressed and extended her gratitude to Vigil India Movement for the prestigious Award in recognition of her service to the community in her acceptance speech.  Dr. Cherian Thomas, Secretary and Trustee of VIM thanked the honourable guests and delegates at the function. 


Awarded to

Human trafficking is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. Every year, thousands of women, men and children become victims of trafficking in persons within a country or beyond the borders of a country. Almost every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination of victims. An alarming global phenomenon of trafficking in persons by means of coercion and deception for commercial sex exploitation plagues in many parts of India, especially where poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and the suppression of women’s rights are rampant.

It is in this context that the commitment of Ms. Bandari Jayamma, a barefoot soldier, who fights against this evil of human trafficking, is valued. A survivor of sex trafficking herself, Jayamma defends, supports and empowers women trafficked and coerced into commercial sex trade. In a society where sex trade flourishes at every nook and corner and though legally banned, Jayamma fights for the rights and dignity of those involved in the trade for survival. Based in Hyderabad, the city with over 25,000 commercial sex workers of whom 60 percent were forced into this practice, Jayamma initiated the founding of Chaitanya Mahila Mandali, an NGO that empowers sex workers and sex trafficking survivors to lead a dignified life. Jayamma started the organization in 2001 after surviving trafficking and coercion into sexual slavery as a young woman in her own life. Chaitanya Mahila Mandali is the first ever Indian non-profit organization that has been founded by a survivor who has lived the pain and trauma of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Jayamma’s leadership through Chaitainya Mahila Mandali in rescuing victims of human trafficking and those who are forced into sex trade, providing counseling, healthcare, skills training, and legal aid,  income-generating activities for commercial sex workers is highly commendable. Chaitainya Mahila Mandali has so far prevented at least 25,000 girls and women from entering into sex work.  While spearheading the campaign against human trafficking and sex trade, Jayamma has partnered with regional and national organizations to address this growing menace.  Her active participation as a Member of the Core committee planning for National AIDS Control Programme Phase IV (2012-17) has significantly influenced and contributed to making community participation mandatory in the programme. Her tireless effort of lobbying has also helped many victims of sex trafficking to take part in high level policy decisions.

Jayamma’s commitment to be actively involved in rescuing and supporting girl children of sex workers who are at high risk of sexual exploitation, and her concern for the victims motivated her to open the Chaitanya Happy Home. Chaitanya is a halfway home that provides shelter, medical care and education to children of sex workers, who would have been abused and forced into sex trade, had they been left with their mothers. Jayamma provides them love, care, fear-free environment and education to live in dignity. As Akshaya, a sex worker turned a Peer Educator says, “I always looked at myself with self-loathing and helplessness because that is how the society looked at me. But since I met Jayamma, I have learned to look at myself as a human being who has equal rights like others and who can stand up for herself.”

In selecting Jayamma Bandari for the Rev. Dr. M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award 2014, the members of the Jury and the Board of Trustees of Vigil India Movement recognize Jayamma Bandari’s tireless efforts and dedication towards defending the rights and dignity of the most defenseless and vulnerable women and children in society: the trafficked, the abused, the exploited and the abandoned. Her work is a shining example of reclaiming the human dignity, the birthright of every human being, especially the exploited women and children.  

Justice P.P. Bopanna                                                                                                      Advocate K. Pratap Reddy  Managing Trustee, VIM                                                                                                              President, VIM

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