on the details of
Thematic Intervention: Protection (Child Trafficking)
SANLAAP (meaning ‘dialogue’ in Bengali) was formed in 1987 by a group of women who wanted to address the social imbalances and gender discrimination faced by children and women in the society. Today the organization is known internationally for its work that is changing the situations of hundreds and thousands of children and young women who were trafficked within their own country and beyond borders for commercial sexual abuse and violence. Ms. Indrani Sinha (the Founder of Sanlaap) had been working against violence and abuse of women for over three decades. It was after her untimely demise in August 2015; the organisation saw a transition in the leadership. Mr. Pinaki Ranjan Sinha has taken over as the Programme and Finance Head of Sanlaap. Mr. Sinha, a Chartered Accountant by profession, started his career in the development sector in 1979 with Mennonite Central Committee, Kolkata. Later he started his own Accountancy firm. He has been associated with evaluation and audits of Funding Agencies and providing financial inputs to various development organizations. He, along with his wife Ms. Indrani Sinha, co-founded Sanlaap in 1987. With the passing away of Ms. Sinha, Now Mr. Sinha heads the organisation.
“In the State of West Bengal, Trafficking and Child Marriage assumes enormous proportion with regards to Child Protection. Given to the geographical location of West Bengal (border to Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh) and in addition to that many socio-economic factors, the state is highly vulnerable to inter-state and cross border trafficking of children and women by unscrupulous elements. Considering and comparing the rural population’s per capita income with that of urban, the former is limited with earning capacity along with poverty, which makes people especially girl child and women susceptible to traffickers. Marriage has been one of the guises for Trafficking. 54.7% minor girls in Bengal got married before the legal age of marriage as per DLHS 2007-08 data. The vulnerability of the guardians and the girl are exploited by the traffickers. Social customs, tradition, ignorance, poverty and security for the girl perpetuate Child Marriage over the generations, impeding the development of the girl child.
It is interesting to note that despite the highest procuration rate of Minor girls from West Bengal, the number of cases (104) lodged under ITPA is not seen to be high in the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. The nexus between the protectors and the violators have attributed to the gaps in responding to the issue. Pendency of cases has compounded to the issue in the State which has largely impacted on the Prosecution and Conviction of Traffickers. With cases of Trafficking increasing in the State, the rate of conviction is dismally low and is found to decline in the recent years. Until and unless the gaps in the process of Prosecution are not addressed, justice for the trafficked survivors would be impaired.
- Prevention of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of women and children.
- Prevention of Second Generation prostitution and facilitating services for women in need and capacity building of developing community based organizations to work towards Child Protection and Welfare of Children and Women who have returned from violence of trafficking.
- Reintegration and mainstreaming of survivors.
Achievements & Impact in the Review Period
In this year of the intervention, the focus was on continuing work with the children in 16 high schools as a strategy of preventive approach with the aim of looking at school as a safety net for children vulnerable to be trafficked or married. Life Skills Education sessions have been undertaken in the year which facilitated the process of children sharing their concerns and also reporting of different cases of their peers who were subjected to being married off or have been victims of child sexual abuse (CSA). It also resulted in strengthening the engagement with the school authorities, Local Self Governance (LSG) members and communities to address the issues of violation with the help of Police and District Child Protection Society (called DCPS hereafter). As a resource organization, its continuous engagement with the District Child Protection Officers (DCPOs) of the 5 districts has led to the Associate Partner Agencies being members of 7 Village Level Child Protection Committees (VLCPCs) while Sanlaap is a member in 5 blocks of North 24 Parganas and is the Resource Organisation for training of the members in North 24 Parganas.
Working with the Children:
Crises centres continued in 3 red light areas of Kolkata. The crises centres play a significant role as a safe space for the children of the red light areas through activities undertaken with the children apart from providing supplementary educational support to retain them in school. The centres also facilitate in engaging with the mothers, youths of the area and adolescents.
Child Care Institutions: The intervention in Liluah, Malda District Shelter, Korok, Anubhab & Sneha Home focuses on strengthening the needs of children in institutional care with engagement with the J.J System and the District Child Protection System (DCPS). It renders scope of presenting the cases before the child welfare committee (CWC) for expediting the processes with regards to trafficked survivors, the restoration, repatriation and Rehabilitation processes.
School Programmes:- Sanlaap engaged with 18 schools of which 16 schools were worked in a concerted manner. They were able to reach out to 2635 children (2485 children through the School Programme apart from 150 children in Jalpaiguri Sadar). 75 teachers were engaged within the year of which 45 teachers have demonstrated leadership qualities in helping elicit information from students through dialogues. The focus was on emphasizing on the need for children attending and continuing school, thereby reducing the vulnerability of a child to be subjected to greater risk of being trafficked and exploited on being out of the net of schooling.
Working with the Community:- Meetings and capacity building programmes were conducted with the self help groups and the child protection committees at different levels, to build their understanding and increase the reporting of cases on one hand while also looking at the preventing child protection violations.
Working with the System:- Engagement was done with the government at different levels to promote coordination and inter-departmental convergence to address the issue of Child Protection. The District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) has been engaged in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Malda and East Midnapur for trainings of the Para-legal Volunteers and other legal assistance. Sanlaap is the resource organisation for trainings in North 24 Parganas. Sanlaap has also engaged with the SCPCR (State Commission for Protection of Child Rights) for the children’s process and the Child Inspectorate programme which they are taking forward in North 24 Parganas. Sanlaap has been asked to do a Desk Review on Migration and Vulnerabilities of Children for developing the Migration Policy in the State of West Bengal.
Focus: Advocacy and Networking and Model Building:
- Reviewing of the Draft Policy on Rehabilitation in West Bengal (looking at the aspect of Rescue also) in line of National Policy on Rescue and Rehabilitation being taken up at the National level.
- Undertake processes at the National level for drafting of the National Policy on Rescue and Rehabilitation.
- Engagement with the Directorate of Child Rights & Trafficking (and Social Welfare) and SCPCR for collaboration to Incorporate proposed changes.
- Engagement with the Directorate of Child Rights and Trafficking to ensure their endorsement in developing a Handbook on Rehabilitation of Trafficked survivors as a workable model.
- Providing services to survivors as per the 7 Core Quality Care Standards apart from Legal Care Standards. Family Strengthening Programme undertaken with the guardians of the survivors.
- Data collection (100 cases) from 5 districts (South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Malda, Jalpaiguri / Alipurduar & Darjeeling) on the status of trafficking cases. Meetings with Judicial Academy for inclusion of Trafficking issue in their curriculum.
- Meetings with 2 Bar Associations (Bankshal Court and Basirhat) to establish rapport.
- Developing a questionnaire to assess the trend (quantitative and qualitative data) on Unsafe Migration and Rescue and Rehabilitation processes, and areas of collaboration (working with Manipur and other relevant team to understand the Prevention aspect worked upon and develop a comparative analysis on the interventions.
- Develop a detailed flow chart covering all the aspects of Trafficking and the procedural gaps
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