Event Details

District Level Workshop on Child Trafficking : Kokrajhar

 

Date:16th March, 2019
Venue: CIT, Kokrajhar.

Organised by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights & State Commission for Protection of Child Rights
in joint collaboration with
Intellectual Forum of North East (IFNE) 
 
 
 
 
In the inaugural session, Sri. Sanjiv Kumar Sharma, ADC, Kokrajhar stressed that the main reason is illiteracy and poor people. Therefore the police must play an active role in solving cases related to trafficking. Sri. Arun Kumar Basumatari, Joint Secretary BTC said that the protection of child in the most important duty of the society. These children are citizen of tomorrow and if they are abused at such tender age, we run the risk of creating unhealthy societies in future. Therefore it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure a better future. However, the poor families find it difficult to even report to police in case of child abuse which makes it difficult for the authorities to tackle the issue.
 
The number of cases is so high in BTC that its effect is even felt in Delhi. Many times the child is lured with the promise of education or lucrative job and then exploited. The central government is spending lot money to tackle this issue and working towards removing of anti-social elements from the society. However, Mr. Basumatari stressed that informing the citizen about the prevention mechanism is necessary in order to be more effective against child trafficking.
 
In the first technical session, Dr. P. M. Nair, IPS DGP, NDRF (retd.) wanted everyone to take the pledge that “Our children are not for sale”. He reminded everyone that the citizens of this country have given themselves a constitution in which Article 23 mentions that human trafficking in any form is prohibited. It is constitutional right of the citizens for not being trafficked. Since it is mentioned in the constitution, it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure child trafficking do not take place.
 
He mentioned that child right is of the foremost importance. And if any child is suffering, it is everyone’s fault. He highlighted that more than 1000 cases of child trafficking taking place in Kokrajhar and it is imperative to investigate and indentify the traffickers, apprehend and jail them.
 
In the later session, Mr. Nair gave a presentation on the human trafficking: Dimensions, challenges and Innovations. He explained the different stages of trafficking starting from (1) Recruiting, (2) Transport, (3) Harbour, (4) Transfers, (5) Receive. Very often the children are trafficked in lieu of better treatment. These days sexting i.e. texting vulgar messages, mobile technology could also be used to trap children and taken to different location as bonded labours. Very often these children are used as prostitutes. However, Mr. Nair wanted to make a concept clear that the children are not prostitutes rather they become prostituted-children. This is also a form of slavery since children do not have the choice of leaving the work environment.
 
Economics plays a big role in trafficking. It is estimated that an amount to 20 lakh crore INR equivalent to one-fifth of GDP helps run the trafficking business. Mr. Nair wanted the state to declare anyone accessing child prostitutes as rapist as he believes that this could help in choking the demand side of the supply chain. There are also special provisions against child trafficking in the constitution such as rigorous imprisonment of 7 year jail. Even license of hotel can be cancelled if children are found in hotel rooms.
 
Although a proper scientific collection of evidence must be collected to prosecute offenders, authorities must take care not to harass the victims. Victimization of victims at different levels even at the hands of investigators such as number of statements given to different authorities is unwanted. Very often victims are not able to communicate properly due to exploitation or trauma. In such cases, the response team should be in listening mode rather than hearing mode in order to grasp the communication of the victims. The importance should be given to non-verbal communication as Mr. Nair explained that all parts of the body is continuously sending message even if a person is silent.
 
There are various reasons which make the task of stop child trafficking impossible to stop. Studies have found that 60% percent of cases are not even reported. In the rest of the cases, rehabilitation of the victims posse challenges due to stereotyping. The poor conviction rate of offenders by the judicial system encourages system of trafficking.
 
Despite the challenges, Mr. Nair stresses the importance of communication between stakeholders especially with the families of victims and convergence of stakeholders in order curb child trafficking.
 
In the second technical session, Dr. Sunita Changkakati spoke about the state level development in tackling child trafficking. She is the chairperson of Assam SCPCR which was commissioned in 2009. ASCPCR is a very active branch in intervening various cases such as child education, child marriage, child trafficking, and protection of children against sexual exploitation. Every district has legal service authority to protect and ensure compensation for victims. The district child welfare officer and child welfare committee have magisterial powers to ensure rehabilitation of victims.
 
 In order to improve the child protection mechanism, Mrs. Changkakati advocated for separate child and women cell protection unit in every police station called “Maitri” project which would create a child friendly cell similar to women cell.
 
She feels that the child trafficking is much neglected issue since it takes place in disguise. Very often known members of family facilitate such crimes in lieu for better future or employment through placement agency such as domestic help, sex trafficking, child beggars. She gave an account of how the nexus between beggars work. Many times, the children are drugged and sent to beg in the streets. Though people give money out of sympathy, the money goes to their handlers of child traffickers. Therefore, giving money to beggars should be discouraged.
 
Like the other panel members, Mrs.Changkakati also mentioned that the most difficult task is rehabilitation since child was been engaged forcefully. Rescued members have to face social stigma in the society. In some cases, the victims even prefer to go back to prostitution since they are able to earn more.
 
In the same technical session, Ms.Nidhi Sharma Kaushik, a Sr. Consultant Legal & Juvenile Justice pointed out that child rights is less understood and also neglected even compared to Human rights. It is important to understand the rights given to children to give better life to them.
 
Interestingly, India already child rights since 1960s but there was less awareness and less stringent. In 2005, Government of India rectified commission for protection of child rights act which led to formation of NCPCR in 2007 and started to work for kids in India at the district level. However, they need the cooperation of various departments of government such as the police, transport, education, health to be successful.
 
Fortunately section 13 of the CPCR act, 2005 defines the powers and rights of the NCPCR and its functioning. It mandates the NCPCR to activate different government machinery for the promotion of child rights.
 
Section 31D of the RTE act gives the NCPCR the right to monitor the factors that are preventing a child to get his/ her rights. They will provide a complete assessment of progress made each year towards the target of universal quality education for each child in the each group 6-14 years. They will also analyse that whether all the stakeholders have upheld their commitments and fulfilled their roles/duties.
Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005 gives the monitoring power to NCPCR to implement different rights of children such right of children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, the Juvenile Justice Children Act 2015 (Care and Protection of Children) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
She also mentioned articles in the constitution such as Article 23 which prohibit trafficking of any human being, which also includes children, for the purposes of commercial, sexual exploitation, prostitution or forced labour. It is the modern form of slavery. Article 24 prohibits employment of children below 14 years in factories and hazardous environment. Employment is one of the biggest causes of trafficking in India. She also pointed out that anyone caught for trafficking or engaging in sexual exploitation a minor in any manner, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment up to 7 years in prison under IPC section 370A.
 
In the final technical, Ms.Rashmi Sharma, State Coordinator of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Assam deliberated on the topic: Best practices and challenges in combating child trafficking and way forward action plan.
 
Some of the best practices in Assam has been the creation of the Bal Mitra gram. There are villages with child friendly environment where children have their own Bal Panchayats where they can put forward their demands in front of the Panchayat. Children are represented in the panchayat by representatives when some decision related to children is taken. In Rajasthan, Bal panchayat have been successful in stopping child marriages and monitoring school drop-outs. This has helped in combating child trafficking immensely. She also put forward the role of Universities, colleges and schools in adopting villages to spread awareness by meeting the people at ground level. In Kerala, police have decided to apply 370 IPC in all child related cases.
 
Despite the best practice, there are lot of challenges ahead.
1. Enforcement of the law even though they are good
2. Lack of National policy for rehabilitation
3. Inter Agency protocol for cooperation to stop inter-state trafficking
4. Protocol for rehabilitation of the victims
5. Media sensitization: Leakage to media creates lot of sensation and stereotyping. Therefore victim and witness confidentiality must be ensured.
6. Ensuring victim friendly process in various NGOs, government departments and courts of Law.
7. Economic, educational, centrally sponsored scheme for rehabilitation.
8. Awareness among students and young children to reach out for help using helpline.
9. Railways is very preferred way of transporting during trafficking. Therefore we need proper surveillance in the stations.
10. Rehabilitation should include physical, social and psychological well being needs of the victim,
11. Access to skill development should be given along with access to medical assistance, safe and secure accommodation
 
Mr. Rajiv Jha from Assam NCPCR elaborated on issues of trafficking. He said that to know the issues is good but how to deal with the issue and identification of your role and responsibility is much more important.
 
He gave the audience two important tools specific to Assam:
1. Firstly the website of state NCPCR is Ascpcr.org. It has two telephone numbers for child right protection and other required helpline numbers for every district. This is important to remember the website since it is gives valuable information.
2.  Secondly he pointed out the limitations of every organization. For example, the role NSS (National Service Scheme) is to relay the information of any child trafficking to the relevant authorities and not to act on it since it could be harmful to the ground level workers. Similarly the role of police is to apprehend the traffickers and not to deliver just which is the role of the courts.
 
He mentioned that ASCPCR is training the panchayat members of every village in Assam. There exist village level child protection committee in every village. Moreover anti-human trafficking club is to being setup in every school and colleges in India. Besides it is the duty of the citizens to visit police stations and inform about missing children.
 
The goal is to stop child trafficking in the forest encroached villages in Kokrajhar. The biggest problem is less reporting. Therefore police are recommended to visit remote villages, build a rapport among villagers which will be facilitate increase in reporting about missing children.
 
CONCLUSION
41% of population in Assam are children. Therefore it is important to take this issue seriously because it is a matter of saving the future of the society. Creating awareness is the key to tackling the issue. Factors which encourages child trafficking are (1) Child labour (2) Child marriage (3) Sexual exploitation (4) Drug peddling (5) Domestic help (6) Organ trade. Around 50% of child marriages turn up as child prostitution.
 
It is everyone’s responsibility and everyone must cooperate. Different workshops are held to make people aware of the problems. Convergence of all departments (district administration, police, health, education, rehabilitation) is necessary to tackle the issue and NCPCR wants to lead by example.
 
Laws are not enough if there is no implementation. First right of kid is to have a family and the state needs for rehabilitate every child who have become victim in their tender age. The workshop concluded at around 4 pm with warm response from the participants.
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District Level Workshop on Child Trafficking : Kokrajahar

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