India has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of child victims of slavery, bonded labour, child labour and trafficking pushed into hazardous and dangerous illicit occupations and other forms of exploitation.
The process of victim assistance in BBA involves providing all necessary legal, judicial, administrative and psycho-social welfare to the child. It involves rescue and rehabilitation of the child victims, prosecution of employers and traffickers, providing psychological, social and economic support to the children, who have been victims of forced labour, bonded labour and trafficking.
BBA works with parents whose children have been kidnapped or have gone missing, with communities in awareness generation, with the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and the Judiciary in ensuring that all the children, who have been victims/survivors of child labour and trafficking, have been entitled to their fundamental legal rights.
In recent times, BBA has considerably expanded its legal aid and support wing to the children in issues pertaining to the violation of their rights. Through a long term advocacy in the field and as an outcome of the same, the Hon. Chief Justice of Supreme Court has directed for an opening of an All India Legal Aid Cell at the BBA central office, New Delhi and also at Mukti Ashram in Ibrahimpur, Delhi in collaboration with the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA). The objective of the endeavour is to realise the constitutional ideal of equality and justice to every child, through the creation of an instrument where every child has access to physical, social, psychological, moral and spiritual development.
Any child who is seen in a state of exploitation, appointed in unlawful, dangerous or clandestine activities and whose circumstance demands for immediate care and protection are identified for rescue. Complaints are gathered from parents, public spirited citizens and children themselves.
After identification, a complaint is filed with the appropriate authority to take necessary legal action for rescue and recovery of the child. The most appropriate authority here is the District Magistrate (DM) who has the power to initiate rescue and subsequent recovery of the child and also make provisions for effective rehabilitation of the child through the implementation of the various government schemes; as for example, if a child is recognised as a bonded labourer, the child is entitled to a compensation of Rs.20000 by the Central and the State government (Rs 10000 from each). Moreover, if the child is below 14 years of age and falls under the definition of the Child Labour Act, then a fine of Rs.20000 is collected from the employer which goes for the educational rehabilitation of the child.
During the rescue and recovery operations utmost care is taken to protect the child, both physically and psychologically. It is of utter importance that the child be kept away from the employer or the trafficker, as the latter might intimidate the vulnerable victim who has been subject to his exploitation.
After rescue, the child is assisted to the police station where an FIR is filed against the employer/trafficker under all the possible appropriate legal and penal instruments of India. Thereafter, the child is referred to the children’s home (Mukti Ashram) by the DM, for immediate medical and other necessary assistance, e.g. food, water, clothes, shelter and medical assistance.
In Mukti Ashram, the child spends as little time as possible: till his legal formalities are taken care of by the organisation. After which the child is repatriated back to his family. However, for a child from another state, who has been a victim of trafficking, it is the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) through which the repatriation is done.
After a month or two a follow up is done of the children who have been repatriated to his family. The follow up process does a reality assessment of the status of the child’s psycho-social rehabilitation. If the child is about 9 or 10 years of age and requires education and/or vocational training, the child‘s parents are encouraged to send the child to Bal Ashram (Sanctuary for Boys) for a long term rehabilitation.