NEW DELHI, 24 MAY 2011 – On Tuesday, May 31, at the Hotel Le Meridien in New Delhi, the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) and SANLAAP will hold an International Conference to present the results of their anti-human trafficking project implemented in four districts of West Bengal between June 2010 and March 2011.
As in many parts of the world, the problem of child trafficking in India is the result of a range of mutually reinforcing factors, including widespread poverty, lack of livelihood opportunities, entrenched gender discrimination, displacement, the demand for young girls (in part due to fear of HIV/AIDS), the upheaval associated with natural disasters/conflict and the sheer profit to be made from the exploitation of children.
The Indian Constitution explicitly prohibits trafficking of human beings and forced labor, and various laws in the country outlaw and impose penalties for trafficking and related offences. However, despite the existence of such formal protection, and the fact that both governmental and non-governmental actors in the country have instituted programs designed to address the problem of trafficking through prevention, rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration, the problem continues to require urgent action on a range of fronts.
This Conference seeks to review and discuss results from an IDLO/SANLAAP project aimed at combating human trafficking using legal empowerment strategies. Specifically, the Conference will discuss how legal empowerment strategies can be successfully integrated into anti-trafficking policies and programs, the need for coordination in implementation, and the main challenges in ensuring the availability of legal assistance services for victims of trafficking. The main objective of the IDLO/SANLAAP project has been to provide trafficked girls, as well as those at risk of trafficking, with the tools to access existing legal mechanisms to realize and protect their rights. With the aim of providing effective, gender sensitive and child friendly legal counseling and assistance, SANLAAP has held anti-human trafficking training sessions for selected staff of community-based organizations working in areas with high levels of trafficking and migration and for lawyers working in the target areas. In parallel with its training, SANLAAP has engaged in State and district-level advocacy to improve awareness of the challenges faced by girls who have been trafficked and to create anti-trafficking networks composed of NGOs, government officials, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, judges and other stakeholders. It has also held rallies at the community level to enhance trafficking awareness and provide basic information to community members on how to obtain legal assistance in trafficking cases.