Monday, October 01, 2012

New Approaches to End Child Trafficking in India

The trafficking of humans, whether for sex or forced labor, is without a doubt the darkest of black markets that exist. Indeed, the non-profit Doctors at War estimates that “human trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world” and that over 50% of all victims are children. As many as 40 million men, women, and children in over 135 countries are functional slaves in this global trade (UNODC estimate). The heightened media focus on their human tragedy has resulted in a positive development: substantial contributions in the fight against trafficking are made everyday by individuals, organizations and the partnerships they build.

This past summer, FSD intern Amy Koch submitted an ambitious, multi-faceted proposal to evaluate the nature of trafficking in Udaipur, India, where many children are forced to work on cotton farms during the harvest season. Under the guidance of a local NGO, the Prayas Centre for Labour Research and Action, Amy helped develop a strategy for testing the familial link to forced child labor. She used an existing survey of 5,479 children in 2,867 households of Udaipur to determine how poverty status, missing parents, and school attendance impact participation in the cotton field. Amy and the Prayas Centre also initiated a series of public seminars to inform the local population of the human rights issues involved in child trafficking. In addition, the community distributed literature to commercial farmers to discourage the use of forced labor. Finally, Amy’s proposal called for the implementation of vehicle checkpoints at the Udaipur border to intercept trafficked children brought in during the harvest season.

Since Amy’s departure in August, the Prayas Centre has continued the campaign against human trafficking in India with a variety of partners and measures aimed at raising awareness. The Dakshini Rajasthan Majdoor Union (DRMU) is an ally of the Prayas Centre that organized a high-profile sit-in last month in front of the Udaipur Collectorate, a state government building. This event drew media attention and gave Prayas and DRMU a platform to condemn trafficking and demand the rescue of children working against their will. Additionally, Prayas and the DRMU are conducting ongoing visits to commercial farms (where child labor is known to take place) in order to apply pressure on the owners and force a humanitarian solution. FSD’s partnerships with NGOs like Prayas enable interns like Amy to make tangible improvements in young people’s lives. We look forward to sharing new developments in the legacy of their work.

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