Dear Campaigners, friends and concerned citizens,
Greetings from Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA)!
The prompt responses and effective interventions by the civil society in rescue and relief work for the flood victims of Bihar are truly commendable. Besides, the efforts being made by the administration, the volunteers and relief workers from various National and International NGOs are helping in the shelter, security and feeding of thousands of flood victims including children.
While BBA strongly supports such measures and efforts, we would like to draw your attention towards the spontaneous increase in human trafficking, in particular of the children from Saharsa, Supaul, Araria, Purnia, Madhepura, Katihar, Sitamarhi and other flood affected districts. It is not difficult to see the large number of traffickers luring away children from the flood prone villages, relief camps, bus stations, and railway stations in these districts- all in the name of providing relief from this flood.
BBA humbly requests you to include the additional component of "trafficking check" in your rescue and relief work. You may indirectly instruct your staff or volunteers to keep an eye on suspicious persons and/or activities ad report them to the authorities concerned or take immediate action as concerned individuals.
BBA requests you to instruct your ground staff and/ or local partners to adapt a child centric approach in distribution of relief measures. The distribution of food supplies and medical requirement should be done by keeping children as the first priority. It has often been seen in disasters that children bounce back sooner if they are engaged in some play or learning activities. Their psychological and emotional requirements also need to be taken care of by starting group activity through play and simple learning. When the schools open, children's needs of learning material, books and stationery must be the priority.
BBA would like to inform you about the campaign that it has started. The "Stop Child Trafficking Campaign" was stated in this area on 26 August 2008. The following activities are being carried out:
Rescue operations since 26 August 2008: More than 100 complaints were received and 22 children between the age group of 8-13 years have been physically rescued by BBA activists from the clutches of traffickers from Saharsa and Katihar railway stations. These children told in their statements that the traffickers had given an advance amount to their parents and promised to take them to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and other cities. (Attached is a news report from Economic Times on children rescued by BBA)
Legal action: 5 traffickers have been arrested and cases booked against them for trafficking of children. Legal action would be initiated against all perpetrators of trafficking.
Government actions: BBA has written letters to the Prime Minister bringing the situation to his light, and to railway authorities and the district magistrates of all affected districts to prevent trafficking. Upon BBA's appeal, the District Magistrate of Saharsa, Mr. R.Laxman met with the railway authorities to step up vigilance in the railway stations and prevent trafficking.
Recorded messages relayed at Saharsa railway station: Recorded audio messages of the appeal are being relayed through an audio system in the Saharsa railway station. This has proven to be very effective and has had a huge impact in generating awareness. BBA plans to replicate this model in other places as well.
Awareness among flood victims: In Saharsa, Madhepura, Katihar, Darbhanga and Araria, BBA activists have reached all relief camps in the area. The activists and volunteers are generating awareness against trafficking through the word of mouth, posters, leaflets, radio messages etc.
Training of and coordination with local NGOs and religious workers is being done to sensitise the people on trafficking.
A 24 hour helpline is being initiated in Delhi where complaints about children being trafficked would be taken and immediate necessary action initiated.
Media action: Electronic and print media – news channels, dailies and magazines would be mobilised to sensitise and generate awareness among the people and the civil society as well. Advertisements would be aired, audio messages relayed and press releases issued. This would have an impact on the general public as well as the government bodies.
People's Commission: A people's commission on child trafficking of flood victims is being proposed by BBA with some of the most reputed and acknowledged individuals in Bihar. The main activities of the people's commission would be as follows:
- To visit the flood ravaged areas personally to meet with the victims- conduct interviews with the some of the rescued and recovered victims and their families.
- To examine the situation and provide orientation to authorities and interested groups in identifying trafficking and taking necessary action against them. They would mobilise the authorities and form their attitude/behaviour towards taking action against traffickers and check trafficking.
- The commission would receive a ground research cum assessment report to be prepared by a group of professional researchers engaged by BBA. The report and findings would be launched by the commission and widely disseminated for further action and future learning.
Rapid Assessment research: As mentioned above, BBA would conduct a research with a team of professional researchers and academicians to know the nature and extent of trafficking. They would gather and analyse data from primary research and formulate an immediate plan of action.
Finally, what BBA has suggested here are only a few pointers and not an exhaustive list. Please add your own ideas and creative means to help the children from being trafficked. Your small steps would ensure that thousands innocent child victims of the flood don't become victims to trafficking and end up in slavery, bonded labour, prostitution and hazardous work at the cost of their freedom, dignity and future.
Your suggestions, ideas, doubts and comments are welcome. You may contact us at:
BBA, L-6, Kalkaji, New Delhi:
1) Rakesh Senger: (0) 92120 23778, firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Umesh Kumar Gupta: (0) 92120 89894, email@example.com
BBA, Kosi Lok Manch, Ward No. 2, Batraha, Saharsa, Bihar:
1) Ghuran Mahato: (0) 94318 62736
2) Jitendra Chaurasia: (0) 94316 70031
|Traffickers are capitalizing on the catastrophe of flood
New Delhi, 11th September 2008. Bachpan Bachao Andolan has launched a major campaign to stop child trafficking from the flood infested areas of Bihar. In the first phase of this campaign 20 children have been saved from the railway stations of Saharsa and Katihar in different rescue operations.
Today 12-year-old Tinu Kumar (Village Rahua, Saharsa) and 11-year-old Ranjesh Kumar (Moti chowk, Madhubani) who were being taken away by the traffickers to Punjab were rescued. Yesterday on 9th September 8-year-old Mithilesh Kumar (Mohanpur, Saharsa) 10-year-old Mithu Kumar (Simri, Bakhtiyarpur, Saharsa) and 12-year-old Deepak Sada (Taraib, Madhepura) were rescued by BBA activists from the clutches of traffickers from the Saharsa railway station and a complaint was lodged with the railway police and local authorities. Similarly on 8th September, 8-year-old Mohammed Istifha (Kishanpur, Supaul), 12-year-old Imtiyaz (Surtipatti, Supaul) and 13-year-old Mohammed Sueab (Surtipatti, Supaul) were also rescued from the Saharsa railway station and a complaint was registered. Another 6 children were rescued with the joint efforts of Bachpan Bachao Andolan and some local NGOs, from the Katihar railway station who were being trafficked to Kolkata on August 26th.
This information was revealed by BBA leader and chairperson Global March Against Child Labour Kailash Satyarthi. Mr. Satyarthi alleged that due to the failure of the government machinery, hundreds of children from flood affected districts Supaul, Araria, Saharsa, Katihar, Purnia and Madhepura etc are being trafficked by means of trains and buses to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Punjab, and Haryana. Traffickers are capitalizing one of the worst catastrophe of flood, and helplessness of the poor people, in taking away their kids for slavery, child prostitution, and for other worst forms of child labour. “While the entire government administration and police are engaged in rescue and relief work, the scandal of child trafficking is largely ignored”, he added.
Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s activists have identified 35 children who were being trafficked from Sahersa; however, due to the lax behavior of the railway police and lack of volunteers and resources they could save only 8 children and repatriated them to their home villages or camps. In the case of rest of 27 children, the traffickers succeeded in snatching them away and boarding in trains. Some relatives and known people from the village are found involved in luring away the children, while in most cases the traffickers pretend themselves to be the “Uncles”.
Bachpan Bachao Andolan took concrete steps by distributing many posters, pamphlets, brochures to generate awareness. Also there were awareness campaigns done in the relief camps through small meetings so that the people in the camps are aware of the trafficking happening all around them. Thousands of posters with the message of caution against traffickers were also pasted on all the trains compartments and buses which ply from Bihar and major public places. The picketing and rescue teams are being formed to monitor the trains and buses. Appeals and SOS calls were made to invite concerned citizens to join such teams. BBA has also written to the union railway minster and the senior officials to instruct their staff for keeping an eye on traffickers.
Bachpan Bachao Andolan has appealed to railway ministry and the senior officials by writing a letter to stop child trafficking by being alert. In addition central and state governments, different political parties, nongovernmental organizations, and local institutions who are working for the relief and rescue, are also approached to be alert in this regard. BBA has also set up a temporary 24 hours helpline number to gather complaints and information on child trafficking in the area.
Appeal to stop child trafficking