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  • Program on Skill Development and Livelihood Options by Skill Share International for member NGOs of ATSEC India for program sustainability.
  • National level workshop on training of facilitators on right based approach (in Dehradun) for their state partners, for better impact.
  • Exposure visit organized by ATSEC India for its member organizations to several South Asian countries, to look at the best practices in those countries.
  • With cooperation from Community and Progress Foundation (CAP), ATSEC is going to start livelihood programs in 15 states in India.

Village Vigilance Committees and Information Booths act as the safety net. Nedan Foundation’s initiative towards preventing Human Trafficking and Unsafe Mobility has been a great achievement. These Committees are instrumental in protection of women and children from trafficking and unsafe mobility. There are 6 border check posts where trafficking is rampant, especially those leading to Daranga (Deosri), Datgari (Deosri), Sorolpara in BTC, Assam, connecting to The Royal Kingdom of Bhutan and Siliguri in West Bengal to Phuentsholing, Bhutan and from Dhubri District of lower Assam to Bangladesh. There are 12 Village Vigilance Committees established in the trans-border areas, where large numbers of ethnic communities displaced due to conflict are living in the relief camps. These committees check the entry of new comers coming to these camps as recruiters of domestic workers and check their genuineness. Through this process, the committees are able to identify the agents and save the innocent girls from being lured away from the camps. The committees have played a vital role in identifying 110 missing ethnic women and girls from the camps, whose where about are to be traced. Through setting up Information Booth Centres, NEDAN could reach out to the ethnic domestic workers working in various metros cities of India, who are recruited by deceit and also face sexual exploitation. The success of the Information Booth Centre today is that NEDAN receives calls from the un-reached community members too with information about arrival of the recruiters and their efforts at trying to lure ethnic women and girls in the name of job, marriage and glamour. Besides, this information is further used for mass rescues from various train stations of Assam carried out by NEDAN in collaboration with Student’s Union and participation of other members of the society. Such initiatives of NEDAN on combating trans-border trafficking of women and girls have resulted in meaningful trans-border collaboration in countering trafficking. Border Districts Coordination Committees have been set up in BTC, Assam and Bhutan for combating trafficking of women and girls. Development of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) was agreed upon and planned during a Regional Consultation on Trafficking & HIV held on 27-28 January 2008 at Kokrajhar, BTC and this is in process.[1] Loopholes in Existing System The identification of rescued children from the brothels, visiting the rehabilitation homes and seeking information of the repatriated CSE children is a sensitive issue due to judicial activism resulting because of tremendous social awareness. Seeking requisite permission from Government of India, respective State governments and police departments and judiciary was essential in order to receive cooperation from Police department, government officials and NGOs working closely with government. Accordingly requisite permission was sought from Department of Women and Child Development, MHRD, GOI and the respective state governments. However seeking this requisite permission from the judiciary and the state governments was cumbersome and time consuming due to bureaucratic hassles. Nearly two to four months were wasted to seek the relevant permission from the authorities. Seeking permission to visit Nirmal Chayya Home for CSE Children in Delhi was arduous as the file for seeking permission was rolled between the Department of Social Welfare, New Delhi and the High Court Delhi without ascertaining the rightful authority of permission required. This turned out to be a major task, before the team. It involved a massive operation, engulfing enormous time, resource and effort. Obtaining permissions from a series of authorities was not only arduous but also posed a major hurdle in the way of data collection. The team members had to run from pillar to post for acquiring relevant permissions. Despite the relevant documents, permission was refused at several places probably due to lack of coordination. In spite of procuring relevant documents permission was not given to visit repatriated children in Bharatpur by the District Administration. Some of the NGOs had their own thinking and methodology of evaluating the work and did not provide full cooperation and support in spite of our several visits and briefings. However we appreciate full cooperation, support and encouragement provided by, Department of Women and Child Development, MHRD, GOI, Kamla Nagar Police Station (Delhi)), Staff of Nirmal Chaya, Delhi Commission for Women, National Commission for Women, SANLAAP, Rescue Foundation, Maiti Nepal, CWIN and ABC Nepal.[2] Conclusion The major initiatives in India by the NGOs should be taken up and implemented as soon as possible in order to eradicate the issue of trafficking as a whole. Anti-trafficking strategies, prevention, protection, prosecution and rehabilitation (repatriation & reintegration) should be best practiced by the NGOs to reach a concrete end point. Similarly joint ventured projects by Govt. Organisations and NGOs should be initiated in India like in other international countries. Since this will open up as many doors as possible against trafficking in the country. This is certain that both pillars can push the strategies faster and more effectively unlike the single pillar. A major weak point that has been mentioned again and again is related to the definition of trafficking itself. There is no precise and coherent understanding of what is meant by the term trafficking and to what and whom it should apply. The various definitions used show that there are many different facets related to the phenomenon. Wijers and Lap Chew (1997) argue that this has sometimes led to inconsistencies, contradictions, conflicting interests, failure to pinpoint violence and abuse, and a tendency to view women narrowly as a vulnerable category, thereby disregarding their right to self-determination. These trends are reproduced in the diverse approaches to trafficking and affect international and national legislation, as well as the content and orientation of prevention, protection and reintegration programmes. The lack of a single definition has made the collection of comparable data very difficult, if not impossible. Thus, a related weakness is the lack and unreliability of data on the trafficking of human beings. One more often-mentioned frail point regards the lack of cooperation and coordination between the various players involved in counter-trafficking. On a national level, this means that government departments addressing the issue according to their specialization may not be aware of each other’s activities, let alone of the work of numerous NGOs and international organizations. On a regional level, although initiatives of individual countries may affect the trafficking situation in other countries in the region, there is no regional analysis and strategy to battle trafficking. Happening on an international level, while various international initiatives are developed, these occur without a clear vision of how these various initiatives may complement and strengthen one another. The laws and the legal systems have, furthermore, received major consideration and censure in evaluations of counter-trafficking initiatives. An operative fight against trafficking is delayed by incomplete laws, weak laws, lack of law enforcement, corruption, lack of awareness of trafficking and capacities to properly address trafficking cases among law enforcers, courts and other authorities. However there is a strong agreement that laws to discourse trafficking should focus on the traffickers and not treat the victims as perpetrators, few countries have adopted legislation and measures for protection of and assistance to victims of trafficking. This is often related to their illegal status as undocumented migrants and sometimes also due to their work in the illegal, informal sector, such as prostitution. Poverty, lack of employment opportunities, lack of education, and a absence of awareness among the general population of trafficking and abuse in migration are usually mentioned as important causes for trafficking. Creativities for the prevention of trafficking therefore usually emphasise on awareness-raising campaigns, skills training and education programmes and income-raising activities. Prevention initiatives target at warning people about the risks of trafficking and inform them about the possibilities for regular migration. These programmes can have a significant influence on target groups by raising awareness about trafficking. Nevertheless information campaigns also have to spread out to target groups in rural areas where there is slight access to the mass media and where the risk of trafficking is often especially high. There are also several countries in South-East Asia, as this report has shown, which have not yet implemented anti-trafficking information campaigns. This is imperative to keep in mind that the causes of trafficking cannot be reduced to poor economic conditions and ignorance only, but are related to a complex mixture of local and global structures concerning economic, political, socio-cultural and historical processes. In receiving countries, preventative measures often focus on the prevention of illegal immigration. Yet, as Battistella (1999) noted, this also requires coherent economic and political objectives, while as long as economic factors continue to attract migrants, policies aimed solely at combating or restricting irregular migration will fail. Protection initiatives have focused on those who are within a latent trafficking situation as well as those who have come out of a trafficking situation. Maximum of the protection services, such as shelters, health care, counselling, education and training are focused on prostitution and are usually concentrated in urban areas. Inadequate services, lack of resources, capacities, and coordination and cooperation between the various services have limited the effectiveness of protection strategies. Furthermore, the marketability of certain skills or initiatives provided within vocational training and credit programmes, have not always been taken into account. Initiatives concentrating on the return and reintegration of trafficked persons are relatively new. Seeing the larger estimates of numbers of trafficked persons, especially women and children, and the lesser number of assisted returns, one may conclude that most somehow find their way back on their own. In most countries, trafficked persons are considered to be illegal migrants and may thus be detained in jails or immigration detention centres before deportation. Aided return and reintegration programmes have encountered long and cumbersome bureaucratic procedures, especially when the nationality of the person is at issue. Supplement on reintegration cases has not always taken place, partly due to a lack of resources, capacities and infrastructure, which makes an evaluation of return and reintegration programmes difficult. As was noted above, counter-trafficking initiatives have been developed based on analyses and references of former studies, which have outlined several of the weaknesses pointed out above, thus trying to address many of the problems defined. Amongst these are initiatives for increased cooperation and coordination between actors involved in the fight against trafficking, initiatives regarding law reform, law enforcement, and awareness-raising among law enforcers as well as the general population, initiatives for more general capacity-building and return and reintegration programmes. It is still too early to judge these initiatives on their effectiveness. So far, before developing new initiatives, it may be useful to look at the existing ones and where possible improve, strengthen and extend them to other countries in the region that are not included. Assessment and follow-up of counter-trafficking initiatives thereby plays an important role, as it will help to keep the recommended counter-trafficking activities going and, where necessary, adapted to changing or new situations. A more integrative method may also be most useful for the problem of finding a common definition of trafficking. Certain have referred to the important role the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime could play in coming to an internationally accepted definition, while others have criticized it for approaching trafficking too much as a criminal problem. The query is, however, whether it is possible – considering the controversies, emotions and interests involved – and truly necessary at this point to come to one common definition. The diverse facets involved in the problem of trafficking have contributed to diverse approaches to combat trafficking, as outlined in part two. For a comprehensive counter trafficking strategy, it may be necessary to make valuable use of these diverse approaches and analyse how they can strengthen and complement each other in the fight against the abuses and exploitation inherent to trafficking. A proper and thorough analysis of the trafficking situation is of essential importance to the development of effective strategies. Kelly and Le (1999) write that “the task of those agencies involved in trafficking issues is to accurately determine what actions are required to be the most effective to stop trafficking. To date no country has actually presented a model of intervention that has been totally effective in stopping trafficking completely. Part of this problem may be because no suitable framework for analysis has been developed on which to approach the formulation of coordinated interventions within a set system.” They rightfully state that the causes of trafficking, and therefore solutions to the problem, are multi-faceted and should be considered from various levels, including the societal, institutional, community and family levels. In order to come to such a multi-level analysis of the trafficking situation on a country basis, good data and information are necessary. Though many studies have been conducted, and are still conducted, on trafficking in the region, there are still many gaps in knowledge regarding the problem. These gaps in knowledge differ for each individual country. About Indonesia, for example, very little information is available on the general trafficking situation, whereas much more information is available on the diverse forms and patterns of trafficking in Thailand. Yet, though various studies have contributed to a better understanding of the trafficking situation in Thailand, there too no multi-level analysis of the trafficking issue has been made. An analysis of the trafficking issue should, however, not remain on the national level, but be extended to the regional and cross-regional level. The various regional efforts that have been developed are of great importance to finding proper responses to the trafficking issue in South-East Asia. Among the efforts that need strengthening and further development are not only law enforcement, criminal prevention and prosecution initiatives. These initiatives will not suffice if they are not accompanied by mechanisms for a proper migration management in order to make legal migration in and outside of the region possible where desirable for potential migrants and potential labour importing areas, thereby guaranteeing the rights of migrants. Such efforts may also include regional and cross-regional cooperation in defining migration needs and procedures, and combating abuse and exploitation of migrants, including the trafficking of children. For the migrants, new or improved pre-departure training could be developed, providing information about, amongst others, the rights of migrants, health issues, support structures in sending and receiving countries, and other issues that are important for migrants going to particular countries. In receiving countries, structures for migrant workers and trafficked persons could extend or set up, in order to provide relevant information and assistance in their own languages. These efforts should not only involve governments, but also NGOs and international organizations working on the issue. Over the years, these various organizations have acquired expertise in the development and implementation of counter-trafficking initiatives. While some organizations have specialized more on advocacy and awareness-raising or research, others have been involved in providing direct assistance to trafficked persons in shelters, through counselling, training and return programmes. A referral system between these organizations, including relevant government departments may help to improve cooperation and coordination, and as such the use of their specific specializations. Instead of aiming at a diversification of activities within single organizations, a network of support structures should be set up on a national as well as regional and cross-regional basis, thereby stimulating capacity-building within these organizations. Such a network should include support structures on all stages of the trafficking process, including the legal situation and enforcement, prevention, protection, and return and reintegration.

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[1] Compendium of Best Practices on Anti Human Trafficking by NGOs; UN Office on Drugs and Crime and Govt. of India [2] Compendium of Best Practices on Anti Human Trafficking by NGOs; UN Office on Drugs and Crime and Govt. of India

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