Children and women from the villages and tribal belts of the North-Eastern and Eastern states of India are most vulnerable to trafficking for domestic work. In order to prevent trafficking and to rescue victims from its clutches, National Domestic Workers’ Welfare Trust conducts activities at both the source and destination states such as Orissa, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, the north-eastern states of Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur etc. Sr. Jeanne Devos, National Coordinator observes that over 90% of the persons trafficked for domestic work is from the state of Orissa to state of Goa.
Media awareness programs, campaigns and consultations are conducted in order to bring an attitudinal change in source and destination areas about trafficking and forced migration and bring about a responsive action of stakeholders for prevention. The movement facilitates the training and formation of Self Help Groups in target areas and the formation of village level committees to prevent trafficking. Further, agents and roots of trafficking in the source areas are identified. Also networking with NGOs, GOs, policy-makers, churches and police in source areas is undertaken so as to facilitate rescue, rehabilitation and repatriation. NDWWT makes all possible efforts and takes the necessary steps to prevent illegal human trafficking for domestic work that often may take dangerous forms for e.g. girl children trafficked in the name of domestic work often ultimately get caught up in the prostitution racket.
UTTAR PRADESH: CHILDREN RESCUED FROM DOMESTIC WORK
A DREAM COMES TRUE:
12 years old Renu Rawat was fourth among the five children of late Mr. Ram Suchit Rawat and Mrs. Sushila Devi. Following the demise of the father the sole breadwinner, the mother Sushila who was about fifty five years old was unable to earn enough to take care of her children. In the midst of such a situation Mrs. Meena (name changed) their neighbour offered to take care of ten years old Renu and give her proper schooling, on the condition that she help the family in the house hold work just like the other children in the family do. Sushila trusted Meena and sent the child to the family for her better future. Unfiortunately the child was made to do all the works the family even to the extent of taking care small children for the whole day. This continued for the coming two years.
The matter came to the notice of NDWWT staff in the course of a visit to Sushila’s village, Ethuria and sprung into action immediately. They discovered on further probing that the child had been working unpaid for the last two years. The child was still hoping to go to school and have a bright future. The team from NDWWT confronted Meena and enquired the reason for not having kept her word to Sushila of taking care of her daughter and educating her. Initially the lady was unwilling to cooperate or free the child. The team citing the Prohibition of Child Labour Act and the Right to Education Act and advised the employer to choose either to free the child or be prepared to face legal action. Alarmed they agreed to free the child immediately. But the NDWWT team further demanded compensation for the two years the child had slogged for them, for which little money was paid. The child now enrolled in school smilingly says, “I will study, become a social worker and will not allow any child to get trapped in domestic work.”
LEADER BY TRUE LIFE EXPERIENCE:
11 year old Vishal (name changed) is the only son of late Mr. Muttary and late Mrs. Premawati. When Vishal was three years old he lost his father after which the mother also fell ill and died probably due to hard work and lack of food and rest after six years. Having lost both the parents he had nowhere to go. His mother’s employer demanded that he ought to work as a domestic help to repay the loan taken by his mother, leaving no other option for him rather to succumb to the pressure.
It was during the pulse polio campaign that the NDWWT staff came in contact with the child for the first time. After discussions and a preliminary study the team discovered that the child had undergone a lot of physical and mental torture under the employer for the past two years. Overwhelmed by fear and anxiety never spoke to anyone. After several attempts by the team they managed to have the child open up. The team with the help of a police officer managed to rescue the child. Meanwhile the team also identified the relatives of the boy. His uncle was willing to take the child to his home and educate him. He is happily living with his uncle’s family and is studying in class three in the village school and has become a leader in the class. He is a leader because he has a lot to share from his own life experience which most of us may not get whole of our lifetime.
ASSAM: RESCUE & REPATRIATION OF CHILDREN IN DOMESTIC LABOUR
Rose and Bena, two illiterate girls from Assam migrated to Manipur in search of employment. Influenced by their friends, they hoped for better wages and comfortable working conditions as domestic workers as. Thinking that they could earn enough to support their younger siblings’ education they moved to an unknown place and people. However to their surprise and dismay, the scenario was quite different. Employed as live-in domestic workers for the same person, they toiled day and night without proper food and proper place to rest. Often verbally harassed by their employer, they earned a paltry sum of Rs. 200/- INR per month as wages and that too only for the first three months. For the remaining 9 months, they went unpaid for no tangible reason at all.
They finally decided to escape and flee to their homes but had no money and also were unaware of the way back home. Inspite of the uncertainty, they risked their lives and escaped from their employer, into the jungle. When the morning came they moved towards the main road (NH 39) that leads to Dimapur. After several unsuccessful attempts, a vehicle stopped. They requested the driver to take them to Assam. After listening to their plight and pondering the possibilities, the kind-hearted driver referred the matter to Sr. Maria Goretti, Manipur state coordinator of NDWWT.
With the timely and meaningful intervention of the driver, they were brought to the centre and given proper care and counselling. The employer was traced out and with much difficulty the staff of the organisation negotiated with him to pay the remaining 9 months’ wages. Due to the ill-treatment they had suffered they were unwilling to be employed as domestic workers. He agreed to pay Rs. 2,000/- each to the girls. Sr. Maria accompanied them till Dimapur as they were scared to travel back home alone.
We aspire not to leave any stone unturned before we witness the end to the human misery caused by trafficking. By no means do we intend to let this rather illicit and lucrative trade thrive and take its toll on the lives of many innocent children and women. Anti-trafficking measures ought to be more organised to challenge the organised and dangerous shape that trafficking is taking. The people of tribal origin and those from rural areas ought to be made aware of how to escape and foresee the perils of trafficking. Also very importantly it needs to be ensured that tangible progress be gained in the direction of the formulation of strong legislations that would protect the rights of those caught up in trafficking especially for domestic work. These ought to be implemented well and put in place and ensure that none of the offenders is able to bypass the law and escape legal action.
TRAUMA COUNSEL: VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING
Radha and Nirmala‘s(name changed) reunion with their family: Domestic Work is one of the sectors, where children are abused and exploited, verbally, physically and sexually behind the closed doors. They are unseen, unnoticed and their cry is unheard. Here is the story of these trafficked children into domestic work, being rescued and accompanied to rebuild their life again.
Six years before, Radha and Nirmala were trafficked for domestic work, from a remote village in Odisha through their own village woman, when they were 10 and 13 respectively. Immediately after reaching a big city (for they know not the name of the city, then) they were separated. Time and again they were transferred from house to house for work. No go, the girls had to fulfil the expectation of different employers and huge demand from their side to adopt to different environment, such as language, persons, working pattern, food, culture, etc. at work place, the employer’s house. During this period, they had no contact with their families. They were totally uprooted from their comfort zone: their family, friends, native village, culture, language etc.
There in the village, the woman- agent’s false promises that girls are happy in their employer’s house and they would bring big amount as salary were slowly fading away, when the parents were not able to speak with their children, even once, over the phone from the day they were taken for work. They almost lost the hope of seeing their girls, again in life.
Learning this trafficked case, National Domestic Workers’ Movement sought the cooperation of the village leaders, organised village meeting, where the agent was asked to be present for the meeting. She was warned and forced to hand over the girls to their respective parents by the village heads.
Reunion of these two Child Domestic Workers was joyful event. Six years, home away Child Domestic Workers were not fluent speaking their language. They were also traumatized mentally. NDWM accompanied them, individually listening and counselling them.
THEIR OWN WORDS:
“Prevention is better than cure” is the approach NDWM follows to protect children from trafficking. Different programs were organised in regions, where the symptoms of trafficking prevail, to empower the civil society, community, parents and children themselves.
NDWM-Bihar Region rescues Child Domestic Workers and enrolls them in school and trains them vocation skills to build up their future. One such initiative was, along with Action against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children (ATSEC), which collaborated with the central government-CRPF staff. They trained 50 adolescent girls and boys (CDWS) who had worked as security guards. They were also placed in different hotels and hostels as security guards and gain future for their livelihood.
LEGAL TRAINING FOR MIGRANT DOMESTIC WORKERS:
The Migrant Domestic Workers are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse and dehumanizing treatment which affect them psychologically. At their work place i.e. in the employer’s house, they are all alone with less or no legal and moral support, when faced with problems. Domestic Workers are falsely accused and tortured in police custody. The Domestic Workers, unaware of legal procedure remain silent victim. It was great need to empower them on legal aid.
NDWM – Bihar, organized capacity building for Migrant Domestic Workers, working in Patna. The capacity building program was organized on “The Labour and Fundamental Rights” on 21st August. Fr.Peter Ladis, Professor at Chanakya National Law University-Patna along with his group of students trained 160 Domestic Workers. The students staged two skits to communicate to Domestic Workers, the process of filing FIR and how to protect oneself, when falsely accused. The Domestic Workers were practically taught with simple language, how fill up the Right to Information (RTI) form and the follow up of it. The main focus of the program was to help Domestic Workers, to become law friendly, as it is administered on everyone equally irrespective of economical, educational differences and etc. The Domestic Workers clarified many of their doubts regarding legal matters.
On 4th September, 2011 A sizeable group of 62 Child Domestic workers came were gathered for an interactive sessions with Smt. Lukos, the Chairman of the Child Welfare Committee, Smt. Jeroo Master, the Chief of UNICEF, Apurbo Thakuriya and Sumi Borthapur, the field teachers of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. For Assam-Child Welfare Committee, the part time Child Domestic Workers were a new category of child labour group that they came across. During the session Child Rights and the issue of trafficking were highlighted to protect the Children.
TRAINING AND CAPACITY BUILDING FOR MIGRANT DOMESTIC WORKERS:
Four training programs for prospective migrants, interstate migrants and returnee migrants were conducted at 4 different locations in Guwahati.
A program on “Capacity building of women leaders on Human Trafficking” was held on 11th & 12th September 2011. The Domestic Workers were briefed the concept on human trafficking. Unsafe migration of young girls leads to human trafficking. Miss. Dibya Das, the Program Coordinator did a power point presentation on what human trafficking is all about, purpose of trafficking, push and pull factor, impact of trafficking, who is a traffickers etc. She also spoke on the different dimensions/stages of anti-human trafficking initiatives.
Following is the action plan of NDWM-Assam for the next one year:
1. Awareness generation and promotion on ‘safe migration’
2. Youth, SHG and Community mobilization.
3. Establishing vigilance committee at local level consist of SHGs, Youth club, Women groups etc
4. Formation of support structure involving local administration, police etc.
5. Networking and Advocacy at local level and district level.
The rescued and rehabilitated Child Domestic Workers play active role in protecting the rights of Children. Various programs are conducted to empower them and to promote their leadership and participation. In Tamil Nadu, they are the voice of children who are trafficked and exploited and abused behind the closed doors. They screen the Tamil Movie “Kutti”, in the villages, which portraits the plight of a trafficked girl who escape from Domestic work.
NDWM organized the Workshop on the Child Rights. The participants were from different departments like – Labour Ministry, Police department, Schools, NGOs, CBOs, Village headmen, Social Welfare, Khasi Students Union, Women Association, the employers and representatives of Child Domestic Workers. The resource person was Dr. Fenella Lyngdoh Nonglait, Vice Chairman, Meghalaya State Women Laws Commission. She elucidated the two branches of the Provision of the Act:
1) The Child Welfare Committee and 2) The Juvenile Justice Board. The Child Welfare Committee has the responsibility to take care and protect abandoned, abused like physically, mentally, morally, and sexually abused children. After this session there were lots of questions haul up from the participants, as they are committed to promote Child’s Rights. The long hour of discussions and deliberations equipped the participants to protect rights of trafficked children.
NDWM is toward promoting Child Rights of all the children. In this regard, networks with Child Welfare Committee and like-minded NGOs in different region.
“I wish to become a doctor” says a child at the Trauma Counseling centre. And that’s the impact the centre has on a child who did not like to speak. Yes, the children have now started to dream. They come here as rescued, with shattered dreams and battered backgrounds. We hope to help them forget their past and show them the world apart from what they may have seen.
Thousands children are trafficked from rural areas to urban areas where they are forced into domestic servitude in households, small time businesses and some hazardous industries. They work against their will and are subjected to most inhuman treatment by their employers. Most of them are abused and underpaid. Their life is spent in sleazy environment of an industrial establishment or in the kitchen of a restaurant or a house. They need to live life as human beings. The immediate need is to provide them shelter and counsel them. Therefore, activities are centered for their development.
Counseling sessions are held for all the children at a regular basis. Unique methods like play and art therapy are being implemented to have effective sessions. The results have been positive. As our coordinator states “I can see the difference in our children after the sessions.”
Developing a child’s personality after a rough phase in life is extremely important. The children at the centre are low on confidence and esteem. In fact some feel it is in their destiny to be battered. Some of them are in their shell and do not want to come out of it. To make the children over come these inhibitions we also make sure to organize personality development sessions along with counseling.
The children who've been able to forget their past and are ready to embrace the new world have joined the formal education system. A regular follow up with the school authorities and teachers are done. Some children have been sent to their families. A child could be in school or with a family, regular follow up is carried out to ensure that the child does not go back in the state he was rescued from. Separate sessions may be held with children in school who are not able to cope up. So as to understand the needs and requirements of children better, and to assist the child in making a correct choice, we also conduct IQ testing for them.
We hope to achieve a holistic development for each child. Beginning from counseling, personality development, enrollment in the formal education system and health check ups; our effort is to make accessible the basic needs which the child might need to make his childhood a memorable one.
Trauma Counsel Victims of Trafficking & Integrate
A Report: April 2011
Human trafficking has become one of the most lucrative clandestine businesses world over. Young girls and children are trafficked without their knowledge. This is primarily carried on by trafficking agencies who have very often a virtual existence. Young girls, women and children are trafficked under the pretext of giving better jobs with fat salaries. Their parents, especially in the villages are lured into believing that their wards would be safe in the employer’s location and they would fetch large sums of money to them. This makes the financially ill parents to accept the offer and send their children. Young girls and children thus brought to the urban areas are sent to prostitution, domestic work, sweat shops, small scale as well as hazardous industries or some involuntary servitude. Some of them never get to see their parents again, some never get paid and live a life of slavery and other try to escape the situation. Above all they are made to work round the clock, beaten up, abused sexually and made to undergo traumatic experiences.
Similarly women and young girls migrate to urban areas for domestic work. We have several cases from Delhi wherein the girls are kept at the Placement Agency for days and the employers visit the agency and pick them up.
The government of India prohibits trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation under Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act. It also prohibits bonded and forced labor through The Bonded Labor Abolition Act, The Child Labor Act and the Juvenile Justice Act. However these laws are ineffectually enforced and therefore these immoral activities continue.
How do we assist?
We have rescued several girls and women who have been victims of trafficking. People thus rescued need to get back to normalcy and for that they need to be counseled. It takes time for many of them to open up and share their painful experiences and they remain closed. Our counselors help them get over their dark past by various exercises and therapy. We shelter them in our transit shelter homes in preparation for reintegration. Once they are back to normal or almost normal we get some of them back to school others are helped to pursue some sort of vocational training. And finally get them reintegrated and for that we try to trace their parents and guardians, study the situation and get them back to work.
We have already reintegrated more than 200 victims back to their families and thus made them aware of the ill effects of trafficking.
Trained Care Takers/ Social Workers:
Children and women who have gone through traumatic experiences as victims of trafficking need to be handled with utmost care. Hence we have trained care takers and social workers who understand them from their perspective and care for them accordingly. We have created an environment wherein they feel at home and look at life from a different angle.
In February 2011 all the animators of NDWM were trained on caring and understanding traumatized children by Prof. Peter Adriansses at Hyderabad, India. He explained to the animators the techniques to deal with affected child domestic workers. He spoke about two aspects of victimized children and they were: Observable Aspects and Hidden Aspects. So even if a child shares something with us it would be very little in comparison with what the child suffered. He said “A child feels: Separation, Loss, Denial, Fear, Guilty, Hurt, Fury, Escape into imagination and Depression. When children come to share about their depression of being unwanted we should sit with them and acknowledge and say that it is terrible that you have gone through it and that should not have happened to you.”
Our animators, social workers and care takers interact with them in the best manner possible to make them get over their sad past.
This is one of the neglected areas which only a few people pay attention to and NDWM appreciates all of you who contribute towards this cause to help the victims of trafficking to see a better side of life. NDWM is indeed grateful to your generosity and sensitivity towards these victims. Our team is able to carry on with this work thanks to your support. We thank you.
Reported by J. Prabhu
For Sr. Jeanne Devos.
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National Coordinator; Project Coordinator