Not rescue, rehabilitation should be prime focus for human trafficking victims

July 29 2018

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Human trafficking in India is an organised crime violating basic human  rights of an individual. According to National Crime Records Bureau  (NCRB) data of 2016, 63 people are rescued every day on an average from  the countrywide racket that knows no frontiers.

However,  just rescue is not the end of the story. According to child rights  experts the major challenge surfaces rehabilitation of the victims and  survivors, particularly of underage victims.

"The pain and  trauma a victim goes through has a long term affect which cannot be  erased in few months. What required is proper counseling which often  goes missing at rehab centres and child care institutes. There is a  major vacumm in the rehabilitation approach in India," P.M. Nair, Chair  Professor, Tata Institute of Social Science, told IANS.

The new  Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill,  2018 the Lok Sabha passed on Thursday, for the first time has made  rehabilitation the right of the victims which was earlier perceived only  as a welfare scheme.

And according to the bill, the central or  state bodies which will be formed under this law are bound to make sure  that a victim is rehabilitated.

However, as per child rights  experts, there still remain doubts on how much a rehabilitation centre  will turn helpful for the victims.

"What is being currently  offered is short-term help. The government needs to think beyond that.  Once the child is out from a rehab, it should be centre's responsibility  to ensure that the individual is going to lead a normal life and sadly,  this concern is still missing," said Prabhat Kumar, Head of Child  Protection at NGO Save the Children.

According to the data  provided by NCRB, more than 8,000 cases of human trafficking were  reported in India in 2016, while 23,000 victims, including 182  foreigners, were rescued during the year.

Of the total 15,379  victims in these cases, 9,034 (58 per cent) were below the age of 18  years, stated the latest NCRB statistics on crime.

According to  the experts, even though an adult might succeed in overcoming the  traumatic experience, minors are the worst sufferers of human  trafficking, especially if a girl has been forced into sex-work.

"A  few months stay at rehab centres is not enough for minors. It is a  time-consuming process to evolve out of that horrific phase and if good  counseling is not offered then there futures are shattered," Nair  stated.

Another hurdle that the victims face is going back to the  society as most of the families refuse to accept a survivor,  particularly those who had been forced into prostitution. Therefore, the  experts voiced that there is a need of community awareness as well.

"Since  there are no long term solutions which is offered to a victim there  always remain an uncertainty about their future. In most cases, the  family or society refuses to accept a survivor forcing him or her going  back to the same trafficked world," Prabhat Kumar noted.

The  experts also pointed out that there are hardly any proper vocational or  skill- oriented courses being taught in the rehab centres and therefore,  the majority of them fail to secure a sustainable life.

"Institutional  approach is very much needed. Where will a survivor go if the society  doesn't accept, how will one earn and survive? They need to guided and  supported till the time survivors succeed in securing a job," Nair  pointed out.

There are many NGOs who are looking after the  survivors, but according to the experts, the police prefers to take  survivors to shelter homes which are mostly over-crowded and therefore,  living in such centres are hardy beneficial.

"Treating a victim  requires an empathetic approach; they need proper care and counseling  and for that professionals are needed which most of the centres lack.  And being over-crowded the counselors often fail to give special  attention to the survivors," Nair added.

However, there is a silver lining and experts claimed that the new bill will improve the status of the rehabilitation.

"Since  it is being made a right now, there is hope that the prevailing  conditions will change and for better. However, proper implementation  needs to be ensured or else bringing the new law will be completely  futile," Nair said.

(Somrita Ghosh can be contacted at

  • Source
  • IANS