Child rights advocates pitch for free, compulsory school education to battle trafficking
Activists and experts on Wednesday advocated free and compulsory education up to class XII as a major tool to combat the menace of child trafficking. Priyank Kanoongo, Member, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), said children who do not attend school are often the most susceptible to perpetrators of trafficking.
Kanoongo was speaking during a day-long conference hosted by Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation (KSCF), in association with Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) and Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) on 'Combating Trafficking through Education'. "The conference advocated free and compulsory education up to class XII so that disadvantaged children could be sheltered from agents of trafficking by remaining in the education system," the Foundation said in a statement.
Kanoongo said trafficking victims often come from poor families who are unable to afford the academic fee. For such children, education in secure and fostering school environments can build self-esteem and an awareness of their rights, the NCPCR member said. "Education can be a source of empowerment steering their future away from the ugliness of trafficking. Free and compulsory education to girls of 15-18 years of age is the first step towards achieving this reality," Kanoongo said.
The conference also focused on existing legislative framework and the challenges faced in rehabilitation process. Geetanjali Goel, Special Secretary, DLSA, said, "There are gaps and we need to identify them. After rescuing, we are not very sure if children would be accepted back in their families. In Delhi, drop out children are more vulnerable to offence and we must identify and map it. We are working on the module to educate children in schools in Delhi to prevent offence and protect them," she said.
Nimesh Desai, Director, Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences, said the rehabilitation period should be shorter after which efforts should be made to reunite children with their families."There is a major concern over mental health and psychological and emotional problems, post rescue of trafficking victims. This has to be met holistically by giving them comfort and social support," Desai said.
The National Crime Records Bureau reported that in 2016 alone, 9,034 children were trafficked, a figure that had risen dramatically by 131 per cent from 3,905 in 2015. Given such alarming data, there is an urgent need of a comprehensive approach to combat the organised crime of trafficking, the Foundation said.