Study reveals deficiencies in rehabilitation of child labourers

Published - July 26, 2016 01:27 am IST - JAIPUR:

Despite increased awareness on child trafficking, there are “startling inconsistencies” between the policy commitments and on-the-ground realities for rehabilitation of child labourers across three northern States of Rajasthan, Bihar and Delhi, says a new study conducted by an institution attached to Harvard University of the U.S.

The study, released here over the week-end, covered the trafficking source State of Bihar, the transit State of Delhi, and the trafficking destination State of Rajasthan. Titled “Is This Protection?”, the study was conducted by Harvard University's Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Centre for Health and Human Rights.

The study's authors, Elizabeth Donger and Jacqueline Bhabha, said there was an over-reliance on non-government organisations in the execution of raids, while rescue operations often did not serve the best interests of the child. Moreover, the entire exercise of rescue does not result in appropriate criminal action against employers or traffickers.

According to the two authors, the lack of detailed standard operating procedures and centralised information systems leads to confusion about responsibilities as well as poorly planned raids. The quality of immediate post-rescue care delivered is also inconsistent, as the children do not receive adequate medical or counselling support and are often subjected to multiple interviews about their experiences.

Legally mandated and essential first information reports were sporadically filed and victimisers were rarely prosecuted, said the study.

The survey undertaken as part of the study produced rich data from interviews with 49 governmental and non-governmental actors in the three States and revealed inconsistencies in the government's policies and their implementation.

The two authors affirmed that the children who have never had an opportunity to attend school consistently need dedicated services to facilitate their integration into a system of learning, while their families need structured and continuing support to mitigate the risk that a child will be re-trafficked for economic reasons.

The study called for concrete reforms to protect children from exploitation, while observing that trafficking for forced labour constitutes a gross violation of rights that affects thousands of children every year. “It is the government’s obligation to institute sustained interventions that deliver access to health, education and financial security for these children and their families.”

As per the 2011 Census, an estimated 4.3 million children were engaged in child labour. The government statistics indicated that over 1.26 lakh cases of trafficking for child labour were registered during 2011-12.

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