NEW DELHI: The teenage help who was rescued from a Dwarka apartment in March is now enrolled in a school in Jharkhand. She has received her wage arrears, besides support from the state. But hers is an exceptional story of rehabilitation. Experts say most trafficked children, even when rescued, lead bleak lives.
Take the case of two girls — aged 12 and 13 — who were brought to Delhi a year ago and sexually assaulted at a placement agency. After their rescue, they were sent to a shelter home in West Bengal, and have not received any significant help.
Experts say care and aid are lavished on victims only after their cases grab media attention. Generally, though, rescued children get trapped in procedural hurdles. The luckier ones are ‘reunited’ with their families but not rehabilitated and, occasionally, children even slip back into the hands of traffickers.
Rishikant, an activist from NGO Shakti Vahini, said, “We get many complaints and some of the offences are grave. The state machinery moves when a case gets highlighted. In most cases, the child welfare committees (CWCs) merely dump the children back home without follow-up,” he said. The chairperson of the Lajpat Nagar CWC said, “Reuniting does not mean rehabilitation.” Shakti Vahini claims that of the 200 children it rescued last year, none has been properly rehabilitated.
In most cases, delays occur due to poor inter-state coordination. “The authorities here are not so concerned as 90% of the cases are from other states. Their attitude is that the other state has to take care of them,” said CWC chairperson Raaj Mangal Prasad. It is also observed that the CWCs of the other states are not so zealous in their work.
Rishi Kant, another Shakti Vahini member, said this hampers follow-up action. “The CWC might pass orders in the city and, to an extent, also recover children’s due wages, but it becomes difficult to follow up on a case on a day-to-day basis.” He suggests that the labour department should act as an intermediary between source states and cities from where children are rescued.
The director for policy and research at Child Rights and You (CRY), Vijaylakshmi Arora, said lack of manpower is another important hurdle in rehabilitation. “If you go to the district level or the CWCs, you don’t find much manpower. It is usually one man taking care of 50 cases. That ratio has to be improved.”
Arora said a system needs to be in place to track each and every child’s case separately “as each child’s case is different and the factors for trafficking are different. This will also keep tabs on children who have been re-trafficked; at present there is no system to monitor that.”
While lack of manpower and poor interstate coordination hinder the process of rehabilitation, Prasad said transferring the monitoring of child labour to the department of women and child development will help. “The Child Labour Act that falls under the labour department does not look into the rehabilitation of a child; this is done by the Juvenile Justice Act that is the responsibility of the department of women and child development,” he said, adding, “Shifting the child labour issue to them would speed up the process”.