Human Trafficking is Modern day Slavery
[Modern slavery refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot leave because of debts, threats, violence, coercion and abuse of power or deception.] Worldwide 45.8M people are Modern Day Slaves [GSI 2017]. 2nd largest international crime industry – after arms. Generates over 150B annually [ILO 2014] – and growing rapidly. 71% of Modern Slaves are women and girls, 1 in 4 is a child slave.India is the world’s largest contributor with 18.35M slaves
West Bengal has emerged as the hub for HT accounting for the maximum number of human trafficking cases in India. West Bengal shares porous international borders with Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan making it both a destination and a conduit for trafficking in humans.
It was in response to this precarious situation that in early 2015 KMWSCafter conducting a baseline survey in a thousand odd households in 10 interior-most Gram Panchayats of Canning 1 Block, decided to set up operations in Canning I Block of South 24 Parganas in W. Bengal. Located about 55kms from Kolkata, Canning is one of the arterial gateways to Sunderban Islands on the border with Bangladesh and a major transit route for human trafficking. Plagued by recurring natural calamities and faced with abject poverty, the inhabitants here were forced to marry off their minor daughters aged 10 to 14, or send then off to work in the cities as domestic or factory labour. Mainly to send money back home and sometimes,as a means to escape penury and starvation.
Over the last 3 years KMWSC has been relentlessly striving to advocate and create awareness among over 8,000 children in the 15 Govt. schools of Canning 1 Block, in sustained campaigns on Child Protection issues like Child Marriage, Child Labour, Child Trafficking and the effective use of Childline 1098. Block level capacity building and consultations with Self-Help Groups, ICDS workers and District level consultations with stakeholders from NGO’s, Panchayats, police and administration on anti-human trafficking initiatives and issues, were also held and regular follow-up ensured. Sensitization and Capacity Building program with Police and After Care and Probation Officers were also undertaken. Street Theatres, Puppet shows and Auto Rickshaw Campaigns were also purposefully carried out in prominent locations to promote awareness, disseminate information and sensitize the locals to the perils and pitfalls of Human Trafficking.
So far the KMWSC has been instrumental in rescuing 27 Human Trafficking cases, intervened in 20 child marriages and resolved 8 missing cases through involving childline, local Police station and Justice and Care.
A Child Tracking System has also been initiated through which Adolescent Peer Educators have been identified and trained to follow a simple system, which does not entail any risks for the girls. These trained Peer Educators would in turn train the rest of the group members, each of who in turn will monitor5vulnerable girls from their communities, based on certain key indicators like:
As of now, 150 children from 10 groups are monitoring 750 girl children every day based on these parameters.
KMWSC is also committed to creating a model Child Friendly villages or SishuMitra Gram as micro models of a macro vision to make a child friendly world, where every child is free from exploitation, is ensured education, recreation and health facilities, and their voices are heard and participation is ensured in an environment of friendliness, rights and dignity in the community. This model was attempted in Devisabad village in Hatpukuria GP of the Canning Block. The efficacy of the model being replicated in other GPs is being explored.
The uniqueness of the Child Friendly Village initiative lies in active participation of the children themselves in creating a legitimate democratic space for themselves in panchayats, communities, schools and families. It aims to solve the deep rooted problem of child labour and elevating good education to a position of pride in the village. Using the people’s participation and local resources led to both success and sustainability.
Action strategies to achieve the objectives include sensitization campaigns on the issues through involvement of all stakeholders and formation of adolescent girls groups, VLCPC and Child Parliament.
Currently the entire community is aware of the concept and willing to work to sustain it. All children are enrolled in school and a child friendly atmosphere has been created. The stake holders are aware and are alert about the trafficking of children, child abuse and abandoned children. In case of missing or trafficking cases, the villagers are now aware and empowered to approach the authorities. The villagers are also aware of the negative impact of child marriage, and actively undertake take measures to prevent it. This is the reason there are no more child marriage cases or trafficking cases in this village.
Whereas education is key to prevention of child marriage and trafficking, and empowerment of girls in the community, helping victims, as well as girls at risk to overcome economic vulnerability is a vital need. Hence since 2016, KMWSC added a vital component to the project – that of skill development in employable trades which will support them financially..
Tailoring is a training skill which has till now empowered 200 trainees. The 6 months course teaches the candidates with basic stitching skills and 3 months training on Beautician trade giving them exposure to present market trends on stitching assignment from schools and grooms them with professional skills.Training in making paper bags was imparted to 200 women under the skill development program which included vulnerable women and victims of HT
For sustainable change, the girls and their families are being linked to government schemes and services such as the Chief Minister’s globally acclaimed project for the girl child, Kanyashree Prakalpa, National Rural Livelihood Mission, and schemes for women Self Help Groups (SHG). However there is scope for further work in this area.
This 1st ever International Conference on Anti Human Trafficking in Kolkata is yet another relentless endeavor by KMWSC to bring together some of the finest minds working in the field, to share, deliberate, brainstorm, forge alliances and move forward as collaborators on a common goal to fight this all pervasive social evil. For more updates of the conference visit the following link http://kolkatamarywardsc.org/international-conference/