Strategies to combat child labour
1) Identification, Raid and Rescue
Our goal is to identify and rescue children from exploitative work conditions. Through reporting centres in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi people can seek assistance in looking for a child that have gone missing or is known to work in exploitative conditions. Many of the affected people do not know which government office to approach or lack trust in local police authorities. Furthermore, most people do not know what rights they or their children have in the situation. Thus, the reporting centres aim to be neutral and easily approachable platforms that provide information to parents, guardians and the community as a whole. We also do fact-finding and outreach missions in areas that are prone to child labour and trafficking in order to identify the number of children missing and inform people of our work. After having engaged in dialogue with the guardians of missing children, our staff contacts relevant police stations, and collaborates with the authorities to locate the children and to go for rescue raids. We strive to have the police with us on raids, both for protection and as a mechanism to hold the authorities accountable for their responsibility to protect the rights of India’s children. One of our biggest challenges and most time consuming activities are identifying where a missing child is being held. In cases of trafficking, there are middlemen and placing agencies involved who constantly shift the child from one work place to another in order to prevent the families and authorities to locate the child.
2) Rehabilitation and Prevention
To reduce the chances of rescued children going back into work, the rehabilitation strategy involves the child, its family and the community as a whole. Our programmes are based on a holistic human rights approach that aims to bring sustainable impact on the future development of the society. The Child Trust’s rehabilitation model is based on a fundamental belief that rehabilitation is not a simple single event, rather a complex process that involves both psychological and physical healing from trauma in addition to the empowerment of the child and the community as a whole. Effective rehabilitation tackles child labour exploitation at the root of the problem: how and why the child became vulnerable to exploitation in the first place, and is in that way also a long-term strategy to prevent future recruitment of child labourers.
The first phase of the rehabilitation process includes giving medical and psychological aid to the rescued child, and legal guidance to the child and its guardians. The next stage includes counselling, vocational, educational and social training including leadership building, both for children who have been freed from exploitative work conditions and children who are to vulnerable of being forced into labour. The creation of Bal Panchayats (Children Clubs) and Yuva Mandals (Youth groups) is important to lift the children’s voices in matters that concern them.
We also do information campaigns to sensitize the communities on the rights they hold and how they can try to avoid child labour and trafficking. This is a social reintegration process that caters to the immediate need to generate awareness among the local community – parents, teachers, children and village level authorities.
Besides knowledge, there is a strong need to strengthen the livelihood opportunities of the targeted communities. This is why The Child Trust assists vulnerable families in accessing relevant food entitlements schemes, Labour Department and educational scholarships. We also support the formation of self-help groups to provide alternative and sustainable income generating opportunities for families that ultimately socially and economically empowers the communities. These are core activities in the anti-slavery/child labour programme.