Global March Against Child Labour: From Exploitation to Education
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kNOw Child Trafficking

Culmination Ceremony of South Asian March Against Child Trafficking

New Delhi, 22 March 2007: The South Asian March Against Child Trafficking with more than 120 core marchers including, 12-year-old Devli from Rajasthan, 13-year-old Rakesh from Bihar, 11-year-old Abdul from Nepal, 17-year-old Nagma from Bangladesh has reached Delhi covering more than 4,000 km through West Bengal, Bihar, Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand. Apart from being core marchers in the largest peoples' action against trafficking in the world, they have a common past. All were traded like animals and were forced to work in the worst inhuman conditions possible. It takes only Rs 500-2000 to buy a child and put him/her to work. Even a cow or a buffalo have a higher bid of Rs 20,000 on their lives. It is not only ironical that children 'cost' lesser than animals, it is a shame that they are traded like animals.

Today, the marchers joined by 5,000 supporters marched from Jantar Mantar to Parliament Street to submit their demands to the Parliamentarians. Leading the March was Devli, core marcher and former child labourer rescued by Bachpan Bachao Andolan, said, "My grandparents were trafficked to work in the stone quarries. My parents were born in the stone quarries, my brothers and I were born there. I did not know life beyond the stone quarry where we used to work and get beaten up. When I was rescued, I was given a banana. I had never seen a banana in my life before and thought it was a kind of potato. I now know the difference between a banana and a potato, but there are millions of children like me who are trafficked and enslaved. This March is for all those children like me. We want to end trafficking and slavery, join us to end these."

The South Asian March Against Child Trafficking organised by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, supported by Global March Against Child Labour, UN agencies and local NGOs challenges the crime of human trafficking- the third largest illicit trade with revenues up to 32 billion USD every year.

"Until and unless human trafficking is demystified and brought out of the heavy development jargon and project paradigm, and made an issue of common man's understanding and ownership, this fast growing evil cannot be stopped," says Kailash Satyarthi, founder Bachpan Bachao Andolan and Chairperson, Global March Against Child Labour. He further urges, "The children themselves (victims of slavery and trafficking) have taken the first steps against trafficking. Now adults have to prove their genuine intentions now. We call upon you to put an end to this heinous crime against humanity, collectively."

Ad Melkert, Associate Administrator, UNDP's message read, "As we speak, an estimated 1.2 million children are victims of child trafficking ands slavery every year. Most of them are girls, unable to defend themselves. This is un-acceptable!"

Present at the culmination ceremony were Mr. Oscar Fernandes, Minister of Labour and Employment, Ms. Leyla Tegmo-Reddy, Director ILO SRO bringing a message the Director-General ILO, Juan Somavia, Mr. Geoffery Pyatt, Deputy Chief US Embassy, New Delhi, Members of Parliament, Ravi Prakash Verma, Ganesh Prasad Singh, representatives of the UN agencies, NGOs, children and adults.

At the culmination ceremony, addressing the audience Mr. Oscar Fernandes said- "Trafficking for forced labour is a hidden issue but is rampant in the country. The ministry will take up this issue." He promised to support BBA and put forth the suggestions of the marchers when the amendment in Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956 comes for discussion in the Parliament.  

Geoffrey Pyatt, the Deputy Chief, US Embassy, New Delhi said- "I had hosted the Global march in Pakistan in 1998 and now I have the opportunity to participate in the culmination ceremony of this March. I am with this cause that BBA has taken up and will put forth the issue of trafficking for forced labour."

Traffickers lure the parents with false promises of better future, education and chance to earn some extra money. They gain the parents' trust through a small payment. Once the child is out of sight of the parents, the children are taken to work. It is believed that trafficking occurs mainly for commercial sexual exploitation, but that is only a small proportion of 20% of entire trafficking. The rest of the 80% of trafficking is for forced labour- agricultural work, domestic work, in hotels and restaurants, factories, workshops, stone quarries, brick kilns, carpet making, etc.  

More than 10 lakh children, women and men have been touched by the South Asian March Against Child Trafficking making it the largest peoples' campaign. Hundreds of thousands of people on the streets have not only pledged support to the South Asian March Against Child Trafficking, but have also pledged to end trafficking of children and provide education to all children. The March Against Child Trafficking has successfully rescued scores of children from being trafficking along the route of the March and have helped police arrest the traffickers.

In News

Day 25: March Against Child Trafficking moves Moradabad, Meerut, Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh)
Day 24: March Against Child Trafficking moves through Sitarganj (Uttarakhand), Rampur and Moradabad (Uttarpradesh)
Day 23: Dhangari, Mahendra Nagar (Nepal), Nanakmatta (Uttarakhand)
Day 22: Lakhimpur, Paliya Kalan (Uttar Pradesh), Dhangari (Nepal)
Day 21: March Against Child Trafficking in Lakhimpur (Uttar Pradesh)
Day 20: March Against Child Trafficking moves through Nepalganj (Nepal) and Lakhimpur (Uttar Pradesh)
Day 19: March Against Child Trafficking moves through Dang, Nepalganj (Nepal)
Day 18: March Against Child Trafficking moves through Lumbini and Dang (Nepal)
Day 17: March Against Child Trafficking moves through Gokhapur (Uttar Pradesh) and Lumbini (Nepal)
Day 16: Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh)
Day 15: Bettiah (Bihar) & Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh)
Day 13: March moves through Maisi, Motihari and Raxaul (Bihar)
Day 12: March moves through Begusarai, Samstipur and Muzaffarpur (Bihar)
Day 11: March moves through Saharasa , Khagaria and Begusarai (Bihar)
Day 10: March moves through Araria, Purniya, Madhepura and Saharasa (Bihar)
Day 9: March moves through Biratnagar (Nepal), Forbesganj and Araria (Bihar)
Day 8: HOLI (Festival of Colour)
Day 7: 12.30 P.M.-Pani Tanki/ Kakarbita border (Nepal)
Day 6: Kishangunj (Bihar) and Siliguri (West Bengal)
Day 5: Malda, Raigunj, (West Bengal), Kishangunj (Bihar)
DAY 4: March moves through Behrampore, Umarpur - Murshidabad District

Day 3: Barasaat: March moves through Behrampore, Umarpur - Murshidabad District

Day 2: Barasaat: The March Against Child Trafficking Reaches Barasaat
Day 1: Bengali film actress Ms. June Maliya flags off South Asian March Against Child Trafficking
About the March

Human trafficking is said to be the third largest illegal trade after drug trafficking and arms trade. According to the US Dept. of State’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 2005 report, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked across international borders each year. Approximately 80 percent of them are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors. The fight against the inhuman practice of trafficking of persons needs no justification. Especially children at their tender age need to play and study are instead victims of a silent organised crime.

According to ILO (2003), of the 8.4 million children engaged in worst forms of child labor, 1.2 million are victims of trafficking. India is also on Tier 2 watch list in the Trafficking in Persons report of the U.S. State Department. Approximately 5000-7000 Nepali girls and an estimated 10,000-20,000 women and children from Bangladesh, are trafficked across the border to India each year, mostly ending up as commercial sex workers. The effects of sexual exploitation on children are profound and may be permanent. Normal sexual, physical and emotional development is stunted. Sexually exploited children are especially vulnerable to the effects of physical and verbal violence, drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV/AIDS. Children within India, Bangladesh and Nepal are trafficked from rural areas to urban centers into a variety of exploitative situations, and are trafficked to work in rural based industries such as carpet, glass bangles, sporting goods, embroidery, etc.

More specifically, a comprehensive response to protect all the rights of all children, specially the right to be free from economic exploitation as well as right to education and participation, comprise of following dimensions:

  • Prevention – such as through access to education, creating awareness, community mobilisation.
  • Protection – through adoption and enforcement of child rights sensitive laws and policies, victim - responsive child sensitive programmes, rescue operations.
  • Prosecution and conviction of offenders to create a legal deterrent.
  • Provisions through victim – sensitive care and assistance, facilities to ensure safe return, social recovery and reintegration- including economic-social empowerment.
  • Participation through community, child participation in activities to protect child rights, involving key actors like govt., employees, employers, etc.

Any time-bound, multi-pronged, pro-active and holistic approach to protect children in most difficult circumstances would also consist of the following 6 stages of intervention:

  • Research (for a thorough understanding of the problem);
  • Recognition (of the problem);
  • Rescue, (through raids or other legal interventions);
  • Rehabilitation (both statutory and institutional);
  • Repatriation (of the children back to their homes);
  • Reintegration (of the former victims into mainstream society);

It is necessary to recognise here that most of the worst forms of child labour are, in fact, victims of trafficking. A child cannot be forced to work for long hours nor can s/he be exploited or beaten up in front of his parents. Thus, child labour complies with all the internationally recognised marches of trafficking – movement of the victim, under a menace of penalty, use of force, fraud or deception and exploitation for economic gain and the victim’s position of vulnerability.

The demand and supply chain of trafficking can be broadly classified into - the source (from where the victim is procured), the route, (transit route of trafficking) and the market, (the final destination of the victim). To tackle the problem at the source, there is need for awareness campaigns to make the gullible parents and children aware of the hazards of trafficking and enhance community stake-holding, at the route there may be awareness campaigns run coupled with some level of intervention like picketing; while at the market, there may be awareness campaigns run to increase consumer consciousness, legal interventions such as a raid to physically rescue children and create a deterrence, public interest litigations, liaison with the government, social institutions, media, etc.

As a precursor to its fight against trafficking, Global March Against Child Labour through its core partners, Bachpan Bachao Andolan - BBA (in India) and its Regional Coordinator South Asia  - CWIN and core partner BASE (in Nepal) plan to organise South Asian March Against Child Trafficking, a physical, from 25 February 2007 for a period of 4 weeks, along the Indo-Nepal-Bangladesh border to build and increase awareness on trafficking to India, Nepal and Bangladesh, especially amongst the most vulnerable sections of the society.

Marches as a strategy for social awakening and awareness

A march or yatra is a massive grass root level awareness and advocacy campaign that generates tremendous orientation in favour of a social cause. From time immemorial marches have been used to propagate faith, social awareness and independence struggles. The case against child labor has got enormous support and help by marches through various marches like the Global March Against Child Labour in 1998, an 80,000 km spanning 103 countries which led to vast public opinion against child labour and the formulation of UN Convention 182 against worst forms of child labour. In Indian subcontinent region also, physical marches have always had tremendous success. 

In 1992, BBA organised its first against child labour in the carpet industry from Nagar Utari to Delhi covering the heart of carpet industry.

The Shiksha March in 2001 covering the length and breadth of the country not only spread awareness that education is the tool to eliminate child labour, but was also instrumental in making primary education a fundamental right to children below 14 years of age.

Marches have thus been tools for - social change in the world, especially for problems affecting the marginalised sections of the society. The March along the Indo-Nepal – Bangla border is also planned for building and spreading awareness against trafficking of children from Bangladesh and Nepal to India, as well as intra-border trafficking.

Action Plan

The March along the Indo Nepal Bangla border would consist of a physical walk by the core marchers (100 in number) joined by local people while passing through the by-lanes of cities, towns, villages and remote countryside. Approximately 200,000 people will be directly affected en route and more than 10,000,000 reached and sensitised through media and other IEC tools. The marchers would carry highly informative placards, posters and banners, raise slogans, perform street theatres and plays. They would organise street meetings and at least one big rally or mass meeting everyday. The marchers would also address press conferences besides media documentation by accompanied and visiting media personnel. The March, spanning 2,500 km and 20-25 days would generate awareness, help parents air their views on the problem most importantly build a network of civil society organisations that would carry on the work forward after the March.

A direct impact of the March would be the prevention of trafficking during the course of the March and the subsequently generated awareness within India and South Asian Region  would help in prevention of trafficking  for forced labour and CSE.

Activities envisaged

  • To conduct the Indo-Nepal-Bangla Anti-Trafficking March for awareness generation in administration, civil society organisations, etc., and also to sensitise the general public and potential victims against trafficking and CSE.
  • To build a coalition and network of civil society partners on both sides of the Indo-Nepal border to help in complementing and reinforcing various efforts to combat trafficking and CSE.
  • To promote people’s participation by the formation of People’s Vigilance Committees for picketing at the borders, along the routes and at destination points.
  • To try to identify the root cause of the problem by visiting the rehabilitation centres for victims of trafficking, assimilation of case studies and meeting the released victims of trafficking and CSE.
  • To try and understand the demand and supply route of trafficking along the Indo-Nepal-Bangla Border.
  • To try and identify the nexus between the traffickers, employers and their political patterns.
  • Sensitising people about the problem through mass awareness campaigns.
  • Making the parents of victims and prospective parents aware about importance of education.
  • Advocacy for policy change to focus efforts on identification of the children most vulnerable to trafficking to be brought under the ongoing efforts on EFA and other social assistance programs.
  • To meet with the topmost political leadership of India, Bangladesh and Nepal and seek assurance that the governments act and respond to the needs of the vulnerable children.
  • Identifying loopholes and their implementation in the existing statutory schemes and continuously providing visibility to these issues.
  • Bringing the issue to the forefront in the media.
  • Developing the project into the shape of a mass movement.
  • Need based documents.
  • Visual Documentation.
  • Audio – visual presentations in the procurement areas to generate awareness.

Expected Outputs

  • A common policy in India, Nepal and Bangladesh on rescue, repatriation and rehabilitation of victims.
  • A common policy in the target countries for prevention of both intra – state and cross – border trafficking.
  • Increased awareness on the trafficking of children and vigilance from public in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • Increased cooperation between the Indian, Bangladeshi and the Nepalese authorities on checking cross border trafficking.
  • Increased knowledge and awareness leading to enhanced participation and vigilance on trafficking by common people, government enforcement and legal fraternity.
  • Over time, partners’ efforts resulting in increased enforcement of anti-trafficking laws.
  • Over time, partners’ efforts resulting in increased prosecution and convictions of the trafficking culprits.
  • People’s groups formed for picketing at the borders, along the routes and at destination points.
  • Over time, partners’ efforts resulting in increased knowledge of various laws pertaining to trafficking in the law enforcement agencies about various national and international laws and conventions.
  • Over time, marked drop in the number of cases involving trafficking in minors.
  • Positive judgments and directives from the State and the Supreme Court of India.
  • Independent monitoring mechanism installed for unorganised sectors like the Indian circus industry.
Governments’ conscious efforts in the two countries to ensure identification of vulnerable section of children and making special provisions for them with the ongoing Education For All (EFA) efforts.
Core Marchers
Govind Khanal, Nepal
Devli, India
Omprakash, India
Puran Banjara, India
Kalu, India
Suraj, India
Subhash Sada, India
Mohhamad Samsur, India
Neeta Lama, Nepal
Mantoon Sada, India
Lalkun Sada, India
Kinshu Kumar, India
Jitendra Sada, India
Amarlal Banjara, India
Nazma Boyati, Bangladesh
Mohanmmad Farhad, Bangladesh
Qazi Novera Tanshu Nasa, Bangladesh
Anusua Karmakar, Bangladesh
Mohammed Tuhin, Bangladesh

Govind Khanal

Govind Khanal, a former child labourer from Nepal, freed by BBA in 1996 rehabilitated and educated by the organization. During his time of recovering his life back in the rehabilitation centre (Mukti Ashram) was trained and exposed as a true youth leader across many countries during Global March in 1998. He proved his capabilities by handling responsible positions in remotest villages. Govind is now been selected as one of the National Secretaries of BBA.   


Eight year old Devli is exuberant. For the first time in her life she tasted the fruits of freedom. She is singing, dancing and playing with the other children at the Balika Ashram in Delhi. Her life is a tale of pain, torture and sufferings. She was born in bondage. Her grandparents and parents were also bonded laboureres. She did not have a house of her own and no place to look up to. BBA activists rescued her along with 100 others in a dare devil raid in Charkhi Dadri stone quarries of Haryana on 15th June 2003. Despite repeated pleas from BBA, the district administration did not give the release certificates to the released labourers. BBA enrolled the released children in its transit rehabilitation centres.

Devli is today a happy and charming young girl. Apart from studies she is also doing well in extracurricular and cultural activities and participates in all the events organized by BBA. She exclaims,” No child should ever be held in bondage. I shall strive to release all children from the evil of bondage.”


“This is our right - that (adults) have to listen. This is children's rights. And if they are not abiding with that right, we will work harder to make them hear.”  fourteen-year-old boy from the Jaipur region in India, won the prize because of his brave fight against child labour and child slavery. The Children’s Peace Prize was awarded by Frederik Willem De Klerk, former President of South Africa, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize together with Nelson Mandela.These words became inspiration for many activists all around the world.

His accomplishments are endless and showed leadership quality in every programme  he was part of.  In 2004 he was the head of the children’s assembly of his school. All students were asked to pay fees. He raised his voice against this practice and approached the sub-divisional magistrate. A petition was filed in the Jaipur Court and consequently the court passed the judgment that all the money taken from the parents should be returned to them. Om Prakash also played an instrumental role in making his home-village a “Bal Mitra Gram” (Child Friendly Village) and since then has worked to increase the number of these Child Friendly Villages. Another special achievement of Om Prakash is that he mobilized more than 500 birth registrations on his own. He did so by visiting schools and villages and convincing people about the importance of birth registration: it gives the right to a name and nationality; it gives all the rights provided by the nation, the right to be free from all forms of exploitation, the right to education and the right to health care, economic privileges, like the opportunity to work, to open a bank account, social security and a pension. And also political privileges such as the right to vote. 
Puran Banjara

Puran Banjara, 13, is from Village-Salmania, Post-Baroda, Dist-Shyopur, Madhya Pradesh, India. He has 6 brothers and 1 sister. Neither Puran’s mother nor his father can read or write.

Puran started working with his parents in the stone quarries of Haryana and Rajasthan when he was only 6 years old. He broke stones and loaded them into trucks, and dug pits for underground cable along the road, 11 hours a day (from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.), 7 days a week for 3 years. More than half the day, he worked on an empty stomach because he had no breakfast. He only had one 15-minute break for lunch at 1:00 p.m. The working conditions were very unhygienic and harsh. Puran still bears a scar on his knee from breaking stones without protective gear.

As part of an on-going campaign to identify and rescue bonded children, one day, activists from the Bal Ashram, a rehabilitation center run by Bachpan Bachao Andolan found Puran and his brothers working in stone quarries. On pursuing the case of Puran and younger brother and realizing the indebted and harsh conditions of labour, the activists were able to convince Devi Ram to consent to let Puran and his brothers to leads a free life and get education at the Bal Ashram.

Puran now lives with other children who have also been victims of child labor and are receiving educational and vocational training at the Bal Ashram in Viratnagar, District-Jaipur (Rajasthan). At the Ashram, Puran learned slogans, educational songs and street plays. He is part of the cultural team that performs folk theatre to generate awareness of social issues, including child labor. He participates in demonstrations and marches to highlight prevailing social problems in the local area, and helps organize rallies to enroll out-of-school children in school and design campaigns to boycott fireworks and other products manufactured using child labor.

Puran plays and active role in the implementation of Bal Mitra Gram (child- friendly villages) near the Ashram. When he return to his own village, Puran will try to make it a child-friendly village, which aims to eliminate child labor and enroll all children in school through active community participation and the establishment of a children’s parliament.

Puran believes that he can accomplish whatever he wants to do. For now, he wants to concentrate on his studies. He recently completed final exams for 8th grade. Eventually, he would like to attain a higher education and join the army. He wants to become "an army man."Puran thinks that the best way to help him and other child laborers to achieve their dreams is to make friends with them and convince them to go to school. Education is most important for children. "Every child should have access to free, compulsory, quality and meaningful education," he says. "It is essential for children to go to schools."


Kalu, now 17 years old and a former goat-herd from Bihar, was abducted and bonded into the carpet industry. Kalu has the distinction of being invited by the then President of the United States, Bill Clinton, to launch a book on child labour. Kalu also has it to his credit that he told Clinton, “I have been freed from bondage, but several of my brothers and sisters are still languishing in it.” And had then asked him: “There are 250 million child laborers in the world, what are you doing about it?”

The irony is that Kalu and other children like him should not have worked on Carpet looms in the first place according to laws passed in 1986. India banned the employment of children younger than 14 years in more than a dozen industries including carpet. This law is broken often with impunity.

Kalu was brought to the Ashram and after undergoing rehabilitation was sent back home. However he was unable to continue with his schooling due to poor economic conditions and came back to the ashram again where he was initially admitted to the formal school in Sauthana. He got good grades in his school and would now be appearing for his 10th standard exams through open school. He enjoys every moment of his life at the Ashram. His exposures abroad have instilled an abundance of confidence in him. He wants to be a social worker when he grows up, working for the upliftment of the rural poor – exactly how and in what form, he is not too sure at the moment.

Witty Kalu; an incredible actor, Kalu; a fast and intelligent learner - Kalu. Said that by coming to the Ashram he felt like being born again. He said that his potentials wouldn’t have been realized, had he still been a goat-herd, an agricultural laborer in his village or a morally devastated carpet weaver in a far-flung place. He wouldn’t have had the courage to look an urban stranger in the eye and give humorous answers to all the questions? Laughing away past humiliations and looking forward to a glorious future


Suraj 12 year old lived in Bihar with his family when 5 years back Ramchandra Sada (middleman) took me to a person called Dilbagh Singh in Punjab. Dilbagh Singh sent him to his relative, Harjeet Singh’s place, where Suraj had to take care of the cattle and work in the fields. Suraj was further sent to Harjeet Singh’s brother-in-law, Sonu’s house where he worked for 2 years doing the household chores as well as taking care of the cattle which included feeding the cattle, milking the cattle, collecting cattle dung as well as bathing the cattle.

Suraj had to work half-empty stomach as he was insufficiently fed by his employer. His employer was ruthless enough to put kerosene oil in Suraj’s wound and tie it with a piece of cloth instead of taking him to a doctor.

After 2 years, Suraj was sent back to Harjeet Singh where he again worked for 2 years from four in the morning to one or two in the night taking care of the cattle and the fields. The employer not only verbally abused Suraj regularly but also physically abused him. Though Suraj changed employers, his working conditions never changed.

Suraj used to be given tea with opium to dull the pain and in the night he used to be forcefully given 2 pegs of alcohol, so that they could work without feeling cold in the biting winters of Punjab.

Suraj gained his on 11th April 2006 when he was rescued by BBA activists in a raid and rescue operation. 

Subhash Sada

Subhash Sada 13 years old lived in abject poverty in Bihar with his family which included his unemployed father, his mother, two brothers and a sister.  Around five to six years back one Mr. Ramchandra Sada (middleman) beguiled Subhash’s mother into sending her son with him to work for good money and a better future. Ramchandra Sada took Subhash and 4-5 other children with him to a person called Dilbagh Singh alias Baagi Singh in a village called Bodh in Amritsar, Punjab. Subhash was told by the middleman that he would get money from Dilbagh Singh for the labour he provided. There was another boy working with him. Dilbagh Singh owned around 30-35 cows and buffaloes and Subhash had to take care of them from five in the morning to 11 in the night. In the morning, Subhash had to cut fodder in a manually operative machine and feed the cattle. He had to milk the cattle, collect the cow and buffalo dung as well as bathe the cattle. He also had to monitor the watering of 6-7 acres of farmland as well as put manure in the vast fields.

After a hard days work, Subhash was given stale food consisting of one roti (bread) and dal (pulses), that also only once in a day at five in the evening. Many a times he was asked to water the fields at night in the bitter cold winter which made his hands and feet go numb. He was physically abused for any delays or mistakes. He was also verbally abused which he disliked the most.

Subhash was also forced to drink alcohol at night by his employer to enable him to work in the field in the bitter cold. He was also sometimes served tea containing local drug during the daytime to enable him to work without feeling tired. Subhash was never allowed to rest or taken to the doctor when he was ill and was given the old torn clothes of his employer’s children. He was never allowed to visit his parents in his village. Every time that he would ask for permission, Subhash was told that he was owned by his employer as he had bought him and had to work for him for the rest of his life.

In the 4 years that Subhash had worked for Dilbagh Singh, he did not receive any amount for his work. He was told that Ramchandra Sada takes Rs.12,000 every year for the labour provided by Subhash.

At Subhash’s uncle’s complaint, BBA in a raid with the help of local police rescued Subhash on 29th March 2006. After being rescued, Subhash underwent rehabilitation in one of BBA’s transit rehabilitation centres and was repatriated and reintegrated with his family in Bihar.

Mohhamad Samsur

Mohhamad Samsur, 14, is from Kachhi Basti, Manoharpura, Jagatpura, Jaipur (Rajasthan). He has four brothers, who are 4, 9, 10 and 15 years old. Samsur’s father runs a tea stall and sells garbage collected by rag pickers. His father has completed 8th grade and can read. Samsur’s mother is illiterate. She is a domestic worker and helps her husband sort out the garbage to sell.

Samsur started working with his friends as a rag (garbage) picker when he was ten years old because his parents and all his neighbors and friends were rag pickers. He collected garbage from McDonalds, Pepsi factory, and Milk Processing Units in Malviyanagar, Jaipur, three hours a day (from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.), seven days a week for a year. He still has a scar on his foot from stepping on a piece of broken glass while collecting garbage. Samsur also attended school for four hours a day (from noon until 4 p.m.). During his work as a rag-picker, Samsur was addicted to gutka (tobacco) and sometimes used to smoke cigarettes.

He has completed only one year of schooling, later he dropped out of school so that he could continue rag-picking throughout the day.

One day Samsur’s father met an activist from Bachpan Bachao Andolan (the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude). The meeting was an eye-opener for his father, who realized his responsibility to work and to send Samsur to school. Without wasting anytime, he sent Samsur to the Bal Ashram, a rehabilitation center run by Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

Now, Samsur lives at the Bal Ashram in Viratnagar, Jaipur District (Rajasthan) with other children who have been withdrawn from work and are receiving educational and vocational training. Samsur is improving his reading and writing skills so that he can be reintegrated into formal school when he returns home.

Samsur is busy fighting illiteracy, child labor, dowry, corruption, child marriage, etc. He participates in the implementation of Bal Mitra Gram (Child Friendly Villages). He interacts with villagers and children in nearby villages to advocate for a child-friendly society, which aims to eliminate child labor and enroll all children in school through establishing children’s parliaments. Samsur also participates in demonstrations, rallies and marches to highlight prevalent local social problems, enroll children in school, and boycott fireworks and other products that are manufactured using child labor.

Samsur now has hope of a future that is not full of exploitation. He wants to go to university and become a good painter. He sees himself making beautiful paintings. He also wants to help other children like him and work to improve their lives. Education should be ensured so that all the children can go to school, Samsur says, and adults should be provided with employment. He knows that if children work then they do not have time to play, they are exploited by their employers, they do not receive adequate wages, and they do not have a chance to develop physically and socially to their full potential. "The best way to help child laborers is to make friends with them and persuade them to go to school. Schooling is the most important for children," he says.

Neeta Lama

Neeta Lama 16 years old was rescued in a raid and rescue operation carried out by BBA activists under the leadership of Mr. Kailash Satyarthi on the Great Roman Circus. The raid was conducted after extensive research on the complaints made by the parents of the children employed in the circus. In the summer of 2004, Neeta Lama experienced freedom once again i.e. freedom from exploitation and abuse of all kinds.

Neeta, a citizen of Nepal, was bought by an agent of the circus owner a year back. The agent made false promises to Neeta’s naive parents about getting Neeta a well-paying job in India which would help improve their economic position, to which they agreed to send their daughter with the middleman. But what awaited Neeta really was a total opposite of the picture painted by the middleman. Neeta was sold to the owner of the Great Roman Circus in which a life of sheer torture began for her. Neeta was beaten up if she was not able to perform a particular task properly. She was abused verbally, physically, mentally and sexually to break her spirit completely.

When the BBA team rescued the girls, after a fracas with the circus owner, manager and staff, the girls were scared and in a state of shock. While most girls were scared to speak out about their experiences, initially Neeta was the only one to tell the BBA activists about the atrocities imposed on them by the circus owner and staff. Neeta disclosed the physical and sexual exploitation perpetrated by the circus owner and staff.

Neeta and her father were the only ones, apart from BBA, to lodge FIRs against the Great Roman Circus showing her resilience. Neeta was rehabilitated and repatriated to her hometown in Nepal where she is living a life free from exploitation.

Mantoon Sada

Three years back Ramchandra Sada lured Mantoon Sada now 12 years old away from his mother on the pretext of getting him a well-paid job in Saharsa near his home town. Mantoon’s mother agreed as she was under debt and was unable to pay it off alone after Mantoon’s father’s death. Mantoon and other children were duped and taken to Amritsar in Punjab instead of Saharsa. In Amritsar they were left at one Mr. Dilbagh Singh’s place where Mantoon worked for a year.

Dilbagh Singh left Mantoon at his relative, Dhyan Singh’s house to work for them in Gurdaspur where he worked for 2 years from four in the morning to one in the night taking care of around 20 cattle and working in the fields. He worked non-stop without any breaks and was brutally beaten up if he was not able to get up in the morning on time.

After a hard days work, Mantoon was given stale food consisting of one roti (bread) and dal (pulses), that also only once in a day at five in the evening. He was physically abused for any delays or mistakes. He was also verbally abused. Mantoon was also forced to drink alcohol at night by his employer to enable him to work in the field in the bitter cold. He was also sometimes served tea containing some black substance (which we assume was an illegal drug) during the daytime to enable him to work without feeling tired. Mantoon was never allowed to rest or taken to the doctor when he was ill and was given the old torn clothes of his employer’s children.

Mantoon’s employer used to also sell the black coloured substance. When Mantoon enquired, his employer beat him up and threatened to kill him if he told anybody and said that he had already killed one for doing so.

Dhyan Singh once gave Mantoon Rs. 200, taking advantage of which he ran back to Dilbagh Singh from whom he was rescued and set free by the BBA activists. The irony of the situation was that when Mantoon was rescued he could not even speak to his father who was present at that time as he had forgotten his own language and could only speak in Punjabi. He underwent rehabilitation in BBA’s transit rehabilitation centre, Bal Ashram. He has become an activist in his own right and is working towards the liberation of other children caught in this nexus.

Lalkun Sada

Lalkun Sada 16 years old lives in Bihar and belongs to Musehar community which is one of the most backward communities in Bihar. They belong to the scheduled caste category and have been exploited for centuries. They live in the outskirts of the village in abject poverty in inhuman conditions. His father had passed away and his mother was illiterate as all women belonging to this community are illiterate which made him susceptible to being trafficked.

In December 2001, Ramchandra Sada (middleman) enticed Lalkun’s gullible mother to send her son with him for a better future. Ramchandra Sada took Lalkun to Dilbagh Singh in Amritsar, Punjab who further sent him off to his brother, Muneem Singh’s house where Lalkun worked for one and a half years looking after the cattle, watering the fields in the night, switching on the water pump and also repairing the water pump during the night without any light, endangering his life. Lalkun had to put manure to 5 acres of farmland and cut fodder for the cattle. There was another boy working with him who was also from Bihar.

After working with Muneem Singh he was made to work for Amreek Singh with no change in his living and working conditions. He was given stale food, that also only once in a day. He was verbally and physically abused and was given the cast offs of his employer’s children.

When Lalkun used to feel tired, he used to be given tea with illegal drug (bad quality of afeem posth) to help them get over the tiredness making them habituated to substance abuse at a young age. When Lalkun was ill, he was given medicines without consulting a doctor.

Lalkun was sent back to Muneem Singh from where he was finally rescued in a raid and rescue operation conducted by BBA activists.

Kinshu Kumar

10 years old former child domestic labour Kinshu Kumar now 12 years is a resident of Purikatra, Laldegi Mohalla, zilla-Mirzapur, state-Uttarpradesh.His village lacks basic facilities. Purikatra is like a dirty slum surrounded by an open drain with sewage and garbage littered all around .The atmosphere is not conducive and is especially unhealthy for children like Kinshu.

Kinshu belongs to a poor family. His father has no cultivable land of his own, driving a jeep which he owns is the only means by which he earns his livelihood.Kinshu’s father was a wastrel, who used to while away his time along with his friends taking them on rides in his jeep. Kinshu’s mother is a housewife. He has two younger brothers and sisters.

Kinshu was enrolled in a government school near his house and was studying in standard 4th.  However one year back the school was turned into a hospital. At the same time Kinshu’s father’s jeep also developed some mechanical problems. He was forced to take a loan to get his Jeep repaired. The income of the family become so meager that Kinshu was not allowed to go to another school.

He started staying at home helping his mother his mother in cooking, cleaning utensils, looking after his younger siblings. In such a situation even if Kinshu wanted to study such an option was not available to him. In this way Kinshu was losing his childhood.

One day kinshu’s father met with a BBA activist. The meeting proved to be an eye-opener for him. Kinshu’s father realized his responsibility, which was to work and send his children to school. Without further wasting time he sent Kinshu to the Delhi office to ensure Kinshu will get an education.

Kinshu on reaching the Delhi office was sent to Bal Ashram a transit rehabilitation center for rescued child labourers. Kinshu came to the ashram where he was found to be sufficiently intelligent and was admitted to the government school in the village of Sauthana, about a kilometer away from the ashram. This was done in consultation with his parents.

In Bal Ashram Kinshu is free, he is not exploited and is free to enjoy his childhood. Kinshu has been regularly topping in his class. He has natural leadership qualities and is a good actor. Kinshu is enjoying himself and is very happy. He has become aware of his rights and knows that his responsibility is to study. In this way Kinshu was able to escape his misery and enjoy his childhood and freedom.

Jitender Sada

Jitender Sada 16 years old was rescued by BBA activists on 29th March 2006 after having worked for nearly 5 years under torturous conditions.

16 years old child labourer Jitender Sada is a resident of Sihar village, District Supol, Bihar. Jitender’s father had no cultivable land of his own; he used to work as daily wage labourer in other people’s land.

More than five to six years back, Ramchandra Sada (a middleman) took Jitender and 4-5 more children to Amritsar by luring Jitender’s parents that a better future awaited him and he would be earning good money. Jitender and the other children were sold to one of Ramchandra Sada’s associate, Mr. Dilbagh Singh who further sold him to a local landlord Mr. Rana Singh, where his name was changed to Sagar to hide his identity.

A life full of torture and misery began for Jitender who was tortured physically and mentally and made to work 14 to 16 hours a day with no break. The daily routine was to wake up at 5am and work till 11 pm.  There was another boy working with him. In the morning, Jitender had to cut fodder in a manually operative machine and feed around 25 cattle. He had to milk the cattle, collect the cow and buffalo dung as well as bathe the cattle. He also had to monitor the watering of 6-7 acres of farmland as well as put manure in the vast fields.
Jitender was not provided with any bedding or any other proper place to sleep. He was not given adequate food to eat, nor was he allowed to meet or call anyone. He suffered living in these inhuman conditions for 4 years when he was made to work like a slave. His employee used to beat him up on the smallest pretexts. His employers tortured him in the most humiliating and hurtful way, so as to break his spirit completely.

Another horrifying aspect which came out was that in the morning he used to be given tea with opium (to dull the pain, and make him further dependent on the employer, it is also that the person taking opium gets a kick and a feeling of having extra energy) and in the night he used to be forcefully given 2 pegs of alcohol, so that they could work without feeling cold in the harsh winters of Punjab.

Five months before he was rescued, Jitender was called back by Dilbagh Singh to work for him.

Jitender’s parents, in the quest for looking for their son, got in touch with the local BBA activists who called up BBA’s Delhi office. Jitender was then rescued from this hell by the valiant efforts of the BBA activists under the leadership of Mr.Kailash Sathyarthi. The irony of the situation was that when Jitender was rescued he could not even speak to his father who was present at that time as he had forgotten his own language and could only speak in Punjabi. After the rescue he went back to his village and stayed for a few days with his mother and father. He was brought to Bal Ashram where he underwent rehabilitation.

He does not want children to be trafficked for work and instead wants them to go to school. It is these thoughts that he wanted to express and thus has taken part in the march against trafficking.

Amar Lal Banjara

Amar Lal Banjara 12 years old is one among 6 brothers and sisters. He and his family were debt labourers bonded to a stone quarry contractor in Rajasthan, India. Amar Lal at the tender age of 6 was assigned the responsibility of looking after his younger siblings and later went on to assist his father in breaking stones, this task had to be done manually and was a backbreaking activity. Amarlal had to work with instruments that would have weighed as much as he did. Such extreme circumstances made education next to impossible for this young boy.

Initially Amar Lal's father would not consider sending his children to school due to his financial situation but after a lot of convincing by the BBA activists he finally relented, and so today Amar Lal and his brother Puran are attending formal schools.

The ashram has its own panchayat for governance. Right at the beginning of each new session the boys elect their own sarpanch. Amarlal got elected as the sarpanch of Bal Ashram in the recently held elections in January 2006.Apart from this he is also part of the cultural team that performs folk theatre to generate awareness on social issues including child labour. He has transformed into an exuberant, confident and articulate boy with a passion to tackle the issue of child labour.

Amar Lal says, “In Bal Ashram I have realized what freedom is. In the Ashram we have the freedom to be ourselves to be children again, to be able to laugh and play without fear. I can dream now of a future for myself which is not full of exploitation”.

Nazma Boyati, Bangladesh

Nazma Boyati, now 17 years old, started begging at the tender age of 6 with her disabled father, Mr. Momon Boyati. To augment the earnings, Nazma used to wash dishes in a tea stall in her village, Sonapur in Bangladesh. Nazma ranaway from the tea stall after 3 years and started living on the streets of Dhaka city. In order to survive, Nazma was engaged in rag-picking and also selling of scrap.
During this time Nazma came in contact with Aparajeyo-Bangladesh, who rescued her from her miseries and is still being supported by them.

Nazma is an excellent at drawing and her dream is to become an Artist.

Mohanmmad Farhad, Bangladesh

17 year old Md. Farhad was born in Madaripur District in Bangladesh. He has two elder sisters and a brother. His parents, Mr. Anowar Hossain and Ms. Farida Yasmin, migrated from Shaibehar Upzilla of Maradipur district, during 1991 when Md. Farhad was 2 years old. His father had a small piece of land, however he had to work as a daily wage labourer to earn his livelihood and had a hand-to-mouth existence.

After migrating to Dhaka, his father opened up a small grocery shop and his mother started sewing for a living. But his father’s sop did not work well and they faced many problems. Thus Farhad, in order to supplement the family’s income, started working.

Qazi Novera Tanshu Nasa, Bangladesh

Qazi was kidnapped by a child trafficking group, aged eight, while playing outside her house. Her parents filed a case of kidnapping and the gang was arrested, fortunately before the girl was trafficked. She has been involved in various BUK programmes. She is now studying and wants to be lawyer. She is determined to fight against child trafficking.

Anusua Karmakar, Bangladesh

Anusua was kidnapped by a child trafficking group, aged 10, while on her way to school. Her parents filed a case of kidnapping and the gang was arrested, fortunately before the girl was trafficked. The incident left Anusua mentally disturbed. BUK provided support by involving her in various child based programmes. She is now studying and wants to be a Doctor

Mohammed Tuhin, Bangladesh

Background: Mohammed comes from a family of seven. His father (M.A. Salam) is a mason. His mother (late Shahinur Begum) suddenly died, leaving his father bereft. Due to poverty and lack of attention, Mohammed ran away and started living on the street. He was involved in different types of hazardous work including rag picking and scrap collecting. He was rescued by Aparajeyo’s staff and is now in Class III. He is also involved in newpaper distribution. He wants to be an electrical technician.
kNOw Child Trafficking

In Bangladesh, trafficking in children for labour exploitation occurs both within and across the country's borders over well-known routes. Bangladeshi children are trafficked for prostitution, forced and bonded labour, camel jockeying, marriage, and even the sale of organs. Girls are generally trafficked into domestic or commercial sex work, boys are most often sent to work in manufacturing industries and sweatshops in India and Pakistan. Some 90 percent of Bangladeshi children go to India, the balance to Pakistan and some Middle Eastern countries. The country's Ministry of Home, Social Welfare, and Women estimates that between 1993 and 1997, over 13,320 children were victims of trafficking out of Bangladesh. A separate report by UNICEF and the SAARC asserts that about 4,500 Bangladeshi children are trafficked into Pakistan annually for bonded marriage or bonded labour.

Non-govemmental organizations (NGOs) working with child prostitutes estimate that in 1997, some 820 children were trafficked within Bangladesh into the commercial sex industry. And this only gives a glimpse of the total number of children working in Bangladesh's sex industry who may be victims of trafficking. Bangladeshi police estimate that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 child street prostitutes. A recent study commissioned by ESCAP revealed that 68 percent of child prostitutes interviewed were forced into their work. Even larger nwnbers of Bangladeshi child prostitutes, it appears, are working in neighboring countries. Research suggests about 200,000 Bangladeshi children work in the brothels of Pakistan, with another 300,000 employed in the brothels of India. Meanwhile, Lawyers for Hwnan Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA) of Pakistan has reported that over 19,000 boys from the region, ranging in age from two to 11 years old, have been trafficked as camel jockeys to the Middle East - a trade that can cost them their lives.

Though also a major receiving country, most of India's trafficking takes places within its borders. A study by the Central Social Welfare Board reported that most children brought to cities like Bombay, Calcutta, and Delhi come from states like Karnataka, Mahrashtra, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu. Estimates of the nwnber of children trafficked for prostitution in India vary widely depending on the source - from a low of25,000 children to a high of 500,000 children. Only about five percent of these children were trafficked from Nepal or Bangladesh. By most estimates over 20 percent of these foreign prostitutes were children.

Within Nepal, child labour is found mainly in the agriculture, manufacturing, service, and sex industries. Many children are trafficked to Kathmandu, where they work in manufacturing, sweatshops, hotels, or as domestic workers and child prostitutes. Here again exact figures are lacking, but we can get a sense of the scope by looking at estimates of child prostitutes - which range from 3,000 to 40,000 children. A recent ESCAP study found that most of Nepal's child prostitutes were forced or deceived into entering the sex industry. Of course, children are trafficked within Nepal for reasons other than prostitution, though data on such cases are lacking. What we do know is that approximately 5,000 children in Nepal are living apart from their families and that the cause for this separation is generally due to trafficking for labour purposes or voluntary labour migration. While some of these children are prostitutes who would be included in the estimates above, others are trafficked into forced labour including domestic servitude.

Cross- border trafficking also victimizes children ITom Nepal. Girls are sent to India -­generally for prostitution -- while boys are sent to work on construction sites, brick kilns, tea plantations, and in manufacturing. To get a sense of the total magnitude of the problem, consider estimates of child sex workers in India. One report suggests that about 200,000 Nepali prostitutes work in Indian cities - 20 per cent or 40,000 of whom are under the age of 16. While some of these children may have entered the sex industry willingly, to be sure a significant portion was trafficked into the trade under false promises of gainful employment. Maiti Nepal (a local non-governmental organization (NGO)) estimated that between 5,000 and 7,000 girls are trafficked ITom Nepal into prostitution in India annually.

Source: Trafficking in Children in Asia A regional overview 2000, ILO-IPEC


Trafficking of children refers to recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation, their relocation within the same country or across borders for forced labour.  Forced labour includes use of children for carpet weaving, domestic work, work in stone quarries, agriculture and various industries, prostitution, pornography, organ removal or use as child soldiers and other illicit activities like beggary and drug trade. Child trafficking is one of the worst forms of child labour. The practice of slave trade, as we all know, existed hundreds of years back and was officially abolished worldwide at 1927 Slavery Convention, but the centuries-old tradition of slavery carries on even in the 21st century as bonded or forced labour with more than 12.3 million forced labour victims worldwide out of which 2.4 are victims of trafficking, according to ILO’s Global Alliance Against Forced Labour Report. In 2003 ILO estimated that of the 8.4 million children engaged in the ‘unconditional worst forms of child labour’, 5.7 million children are engaged in forced or bonded labour and 1.2 million are trafficked. 

The number and extent of child trafficking has been on the increase over the last few decades with a deliberate attempt to profit by the most vulnerable children and women. Therefore trafficking is carried out with the intention to exploit the trafficked people and is not similar to people smuggling as it involves aiding people to illegally cross borders and does not involve the intention to exploit them. 

Conservative estimates say that there are 700,000 people trafficked each year.  However, some figures suggest that the number could be as high as 1 million or even 4 million, taking into account the people who are victims of human cargo.  Children account for a large number of these trafficked victims. 800,000 persons are trafficked across international borders each year and 50 percent of all victims are children, according to US State Department. 

Though child trafficking is growing rapidly in India, there is no reliable data available on the issue in India. 200,000 persons are trafficked into, within or through India every year, according to U.S. State Department. Only 10 % of human trafficking in India is international, while almost 90 % is interstate (NHRC Report). According to figures provided by the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2004, as many as 2,265 cases of kidnapping and abduction of children qualified as forms of trafficking and were reported to the police. Of these, 1,593 cases were of kidnapping for marriage, 414 were for illicit sex, 92 for unlawful activity, 101 for prostitution and the rest for various other things like slavery, beggary and even selling body parts. Most of these children (72 per cent) were between 16 and18 years of age. Twenty-five per cent were children aged 11-15 years.

The definition of Trafficking and child trafficking according to UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children


Child trafficking is a global and complex problem affecting all continents but is most extensive in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Trafficking often originates from a poorer developing nation to a nation of emerging economy within geographical regions or continents.  Some victims are trafficked across the ocean from developing countries to developed countries.  However, it should also be noted that it frequently occurs in those countries in social and economic transition, for instance from countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

The routes and patterns of human trafficking that exist within these broad regions are not static. They are dynamic and rapidly changing, according to the economic and political circumstances, rise and fall of the market economy, and changes in modern technology.

Trafficking as a phenomenon exists in the European Union countries, Central and South America, South Asia, South East Asia, West Africa and Southern Africa. The children are forced to steal, kept as domestic help, used as drug peddlers or exploited sexually as prostitutes and for pornographic films. Even adoption child trafficking has a clientele in the EU countries.

Global Network of Human Trafficking
Global March’s Report on the Worst Forms of Child Labour


All the people who contribute towards trafficking of children and profit from it are traffickers. While it is, most often than not, assumed that large organised crime syndicates are the main culprit for trafficking of children, the recruitment and trafficking of children is carried out by a rather smaller networks with a few representatives in different countries. Others who facilitate trafficking are transport workers who help cross borders illegally, professionals like lawyers who help in trafficking babies for adoption, officials who help producing false documents and border police who are reportedly bribed to cross borders. It is common to find that many individuals involved in the business were once also trafficked or subjected to exploitative labour during their childhood.

Corruption in law enforcement plays a large role in the growth of organised crimes profiting from human trafficking. Border police, immigration officials, and local police are often in hands with human traffickers to receive their share of profits by truing their heads away from the crime. 

Human trafficking ranks as the second most lucrative form of International crime after trafficking drugs, but unlike the latter, children can be sold several times.

The demand and supply route of trafficking can be characterised into the source, the place from where victims are brought; the route, the passage followed to bring the victims and the market, which is the destination. Trafficking is fuelled by both source and market dynamics. At the source is the victim’s home. The victim is often afflicted with poverty, belongs to the lower caste and seeks better avenues of earning money or earning extra money. Another factor that fuels trafficking is the lack of educational facilities or improper functioning of schools for the children. Then there is the ‘uncle’ or ‘aunty’ who is the middleman; often a person who belongs to the same village or the neighbouring villages or a family relative and is in some way known to the family. This middleman lures the parents with money and opportunity of a better life in the town/city and takes the child with him. Little do the parents or children know what awaits them in the new place. The child is taken from place to place and sometimes changes hands to other ‘uncle’ or ‘aunty’ while they are transported to the town/city. In the case of inter state trafficking, children cross the international borders. Often border police and the middlemen act in complicity. And the trafficking goes unabated, unstopped.


The root causes of trafficking in children are multiple and complex. Trafficking of children often involves exploitation of the parent’s extreme poverty. Due to their desperation for a better life, many suffering from poverty fall prey to trafficking.  Today’s knowledge and technology-based economy has allowed only the skilled and educated to thrive to the top.  And with lack of the governments’ will to provide educational and vocational training for the most vulnerable children, it leaves a group of poor and illiterate utterly submissive to exploitation. In most developing countries today Globalization has severed the traditional socio-economic relations and the growth of tourism has rendered children vulnerable.

School enrolment is one of the major preventive measures against trafficking. Children who are not enrolled in schools are at a higher risk of being trafficked and so are children without birth certificates. It is easier to hide and difficult to trace children without legal identity. Unemployment of parents and their ignorance to realities of trafficking heightens children’s vulnerability to traffickers.

During natural disasters and political conflicts children many be orphaned or separated from their parents, which make them vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation. These children could also be abducted by armed groups and forced to participate in armed conflict.

Religious and cultural traditions in the form of Devadasi system of dedication of young girls to gods and goddesses in some parts of India or the Devaki system in Nepal sanctifies and institutionalizes this crime. Gender discrimination and beliefs that sex with virgins and young children is safer and can heal sexual disorders only add to the problem.

Some of the biggest hurdles in child trafficking remain lack of public awareness, increasing demand for cheap labour and exploitative sex, porous borders and insufficient penalties against traffickers.

Girls are usually easy targets of trafficking. In West and Central Africa, 90% of trafficked child domestic servants are girls.  They are considered more submissive and docile.  Some children of ethnic minority groups are not granted citizenship of the country where they are born and live.  This limits their opportunities for education and legal protection, making them even more vulnerable.  Lack of legal protection is also a problem with refugee children and children who no longer have a nation to belong to, due to ethnic or armed conflicts. 


Trafficking is violation of child rights in itself but further leads to violation of child rights due to the kind of exploitation and abuse it pushes the children into.  The day children arrive in the foreign land, in false hopes for a better life and education or in shame of being abducted, is when the ever-lasting nightmare begins.  Children are seen as the cheapest disposal labour who can be easily forced into the most exploitative and hazardous work. Many children end up in prostitution, illegal adoption, armed forces, mail-in-bride sale, plantation work, sweatshops, domestic servitude, forced beggary, and criminal activities.

These children are abused and violated constantly at all stages of the trafficking cycle. Their abuse can vary from verbal abuse and threats to physical abuse, sexual abuse, house arrest, starvation, forced use of drugs and sedatives being injected into them. The helplessness of these children and their illegal status make them highly vulnerable to coercion and maltreatment.

Even when these children are rescued, they face ill-treatment in police custody as, more often than not, they are considered perpetrators rather than victims of trafficking. They face threats of violence against them or their relatives from the traffickers and also undergo mental trauma due to the stigma attached to sexual exploitation.

Finally these children are denied the right to a dignified life. They are denied schooling, normal socialization and love and most of all are denied a healthy childhood they are entitled to.


Laws Concerning Child and Human Trafficking:

Several International laws, which aim to curb and prevent the trafficking of human beings of all ages, now exist. In essence, these laws should be sufficient to combat the problem. Unfortunately, several countries have not ratified or implemented these laws. Others do not recognise them and a few, who have ratified them, do not observe them.



  • Articles 14, 19, 21, 21A, 23 and 24 of the Indian Constitution

  • Article 14- Right to Equality
    The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. 

  • Article19 – Right to freedom
    All citizens shall have the right—
    (a) to freedom of speech and expression;
    (b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
    (c) to form associations or unions;
    (d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
    (e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India  

  • Article 21- Right to life and personal liberty 
    No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty

  • Article 21A- Right to Education
    The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the state may, by law, determine

  • Article 23- Right Against Exploitation
    Traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention an offence punishable in accordance with law.

  • Article 24- Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.
    No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.

  • IPC 340,342, 343, 344, 346, 361, 362, 366, 366A, 36B, 367, 368, 270, 371, 372, 373, 374, 376, 377 and 506.

Indian Penal Code




Cognizable/ Non-Cognizable



Wrongful confinement

To limit a person from movement by restricting him at one place


Punishment for wrongful confinement

Imprisonment for a term of up to 1 year, a fine of Rs. 1000 or both

Bailable, Cognizable


Wrongful confinement for 3 or more days

Imprisonment for a term of up to 2 years, a fine or both

Bailable, Cognizable


Wrongful confinement for 10 or more days

Imprisonment for a term of up to 3 years, and a fine

Bailable, Cognizable


Wrongful confinement in secret

Imprisonment for a term of up to 2 years and any punishment he is liable to for such wrongful confinement

Bailable, Cognizable

Confine a person in a way that anyone interested can not discover


Kidnapping from lawful guardianship

Taking or enticing of a minor (male under 16 years or female under 18 years)

children are made false promises as allurement



Compel by force or by deceitful means, to take a person to another place is abduction

living and working conditions are never as promised


Kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage,  etc

Imprisonment for a term of up to 10 years and shall also be liable to a fine

Non Bailable, Cognizable

Kidnap or abduct a woman to marry or to force or seduce to illicit intercourse


Procuration of minor girl

Imprisonment for a term of up to 10 years and shall also be liable to a fine

Non Bailable, Cognizable

Procure a girl of under 18 years to force or seduce to illicit intercourse


Importation of girl from foreign country

Imprisonment for a term of up to 10 years and shall also be liable to a fine

Non Bailable, Cognizable

Import a girl into India from other country to force or seduce to illicit intercourse with another person


Kidnapping or abducting in order to subject person to grievous hurt, slavery, etc

Kidnap or abducts in order to cause grievous hurt or slavery or unnatural lust of a person; Imprisoned for a term of up to 10 years and fine

Non-bailable, cognizable

In trafficking, all movement is either through force or deceit. The victim almost never gets minimum wage, thus maybe termed forced labour (PUDR case) 


Wrongfully concealing or keeping in confinement, kidnapped or abducted person

Same punishment as for kidnapping or abduction

Non-bailable, cognizable

Concealing the information about a kidnapped or abducted person is punishable


Buying or disposing of any person as
a slave

Imprisonment for a term of up to 7 years and shall also be liable to a fine


To import, export, remove, buy, sell or dispose of any person as a slave, or accept, receive or detain against his will any person as a slave


Habitual dealing in

Imprisonment for a term of up to 10 years and shall also be liable to a fine

Non Bailable, Cognizable

Habitually import, export, remove, buy, sell, traffic or deal in slaves  


Selling minor for purposes of prostitution, etc

Imprisonment for a term of up to 10 years and shall also be liable to a fine

Non Bailable, Cognizable

sells, lets to hire a person under 18 years for prostitution or illicit intercourse for unlawful or immoral purpose


Buying minor for purposes of prostitution, etc

Imprisonment for a term of up to 10 years and shall also be liable to a fine

Non Bailable, Cognizable

buys, hires or obtains possession of a person under 18 years for prostitution or illicit intercourse for unlawful or immoral purpose


Punishment for rape

Rape of a woman not his wife- imprisonment for Min-7 years, Max- life term; or up to 10 years and a fine;

Rape of wife or a girl under 12 years- imprisonment for 2 years or fine or both


Unnatural offences

Imprisonment for life term; or for a term of 10 years and shall also be liable to a fine

Non Bailable, Cognizable

Voluntarily have carnal intercourse against the order of nature with a man, woman or animal


Unlawful compulsory labour

Unlawfully compel a person to labour against the will of the person; imprisonment of a max of 1 year or fine or both

Bailable, Cognizable 


Punishment for criminal intimidation

A term which may extend to 2 years, or fine or with both

Non-cognizable, bailable 

Criminal intimidation is to threatens a  person with injury to his person, reputation or property or to the person or property of whom the person is interested, with the intent to cause alarm


  • Introduce a more effective law on trafficking having human rights at its core. The law should be developed from the perspective of the trafficked persons.
  • Build pressure on the government to ratify various international laws.  
  • Creation of a specific law against trafficking for forced labour especially in countries like India.
  • Increase in prosecutions and convictions of traffickers with a provision for stricter sanctions against repeated offenders. Judicial intervention through public interest litigations are long term preventive measures.
  • Develop and strengthen co-operation between various agencies like, immigration department, local police, border police, courts, social welfare services with improved exchange of information and defined lines of responsibility, delegation and authority.
  • Develop and strengthen co-operation between countries to improve the exchange of information, legal assistance and extradition practices.
  • Develop better victim’s assistance and witness protection programmes to improve the conduct of various officials while with them.
  • Sufficient awareness at specific routes of trafficking. Awareness campaigns for at-risk children, school children, parents, young people considering migration, social workers, transport workers, employers and officials who come in contact with the trafficked people like immigration officials, police and health officials and finally the consumers.
  • Creation of a task force with specialists dealing with children and traumatic situation.
  • Structure for rehabilitation, repatriation and reintegration should be in place. Rescue without rehabilitation is useless.
  • Sufficient steps must be taken to prevent any recycling of released trafficking victims.

Eventually we all have to work towards creating a better and secure future for all our children. A future where there is not only a globalisation of economy, or a globalisation of crime but a world based on justice, equality and peace… a world where there is a globalisation of compassion.

Global March Against Child Labour - From Exploitation to Education

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All photographs courtsey of U. Roberto Romano © ROMANO unless otherwise mentioned

The Global March Against Child Labour is a movement to mobilise worldwide efforts to protect and promote the rights of all children, especially the right to receive a free, meaningful education and to be free from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be harmful to the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.