22 children (girls and boys) were recently brought by the government to Chetna Bharati in Chatra, India, a short-stay shelter. A similar SCN program is underway at Premashray, Ranchi.
“What is the socio-economic background of those trafficked,” is a loaded question every one must ask and find better solutions rather than “catching” and “placing” in a temporary shelter when needed.
Chetna Bharati, a Non Governmental Organization in collaboration with the SCNs, is trying to find alternatives rather than punishing the victims. The strategy of Chetna Bharati is to control trafficking by nipping at the bud which is rooted in the village. Through various programs, one of which is the residential bridge camp, Sisters are trying to address this issue. Since there is wide spread publicity about this program, girls who suspect that they would be trafficked run away from their homes and often ask for shelter in the camp.
One girl, about 14 years of age, recently arrived one morning at the camp asking to stay and study. She shared her story – sold to an upper caste neighbor at the age of six years as domestic help in return for $3,000 her father had borrowed, she has been working until today. Her father paid back the money, but the man would not release her. Hopeless and trapped, she ran away in the wee hours of morning, walking 10 miles, and riding on a bus to reach the camp. Many such girls take the risk of leaving an inhumane existence and dare to request shelter and education.
Girls in these situations are awakening those who are working against trafficking to look for alternatives and better systems. It is a mountainous task that Sisters and other advocates who are working to end human trafficking face.