India is the world’s largest source, destination and transit country for trafficking activities, where some 20–65 million Indians are victims of forced labour or commercial sexual exploitation. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (UP) are among the poorest and most densely populated states in India....

Prevention, Protection, Prosecution

India is the world’s largest source, destination and transit country for trafficking activities, where some 20–65 million Indians are victims of forced labour or commercial sexual exploitation. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (UP) are among the poorest and most densely populated states in India. Bihar has porous borders with Nepal and Bangladesh and has become a major entry point in cross-border human trafficking.

In 2007, the North India Human Liberty Initiative was established to reduce the risks of trafficking and help those victimised by it. Focussing on some of the highest-risk districts in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the Initiative prioritised the 3Ps of anti-human trafficking work: Prevention, Protection, and Prosecution.


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Strategic Initiative

SECTOR

Human Liberty

TOTAL INVESTMENT

US$ 1,435,985

LOCATION

India

LIVES CHANGED

139,221

SOCIAL IMPACT INDEX

55.0 (out of 100)

AVERAGE COST PER LIFE

US$ 10.31

Expand All

SI Breakdown:

Key Achievements

  • High-performance – The Initiative exceeded expected target direct beneficiary benchmarks by 27 percent, and also succeeded in indirectly impacting an additional 75,000 people.
  • Victims rescued and supported – 1,218 victims were either intercepted or rescued, and over 1,900 victims benefitted from short- and long-term shelters. Of those victimised, 293 received legal support.
  • Increased public awareness – The Initiative’s partners successfully reached nearly 82,000 people with the trafficking awareness and prevention messages, exceeding the benchmark by 69 percent. Also reached were over 31,000 community influencers, exceeding the benchmark by 36 percent.
  • Empowerment through self-help groups – 10,581 women in self-help groups benefitted from this Initiative by gaining increased awareness of the risks of trafficking, as well as reducing the vulnerability of their families to trafficking, slavery and exploitation by increasing household income through savings and lending groups.

The Problem

India is the world’s largest source, destination and transit country for trafficking activities, where some 20–65 million Indians are victims of forced labour or commercial sexual exploitation. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are among the poorest and most densely populated states in India. Bihar has porous borders with Nepal and Bangladesh and has become a major entry point in cross-border human trafficking. Extreme poverty, lawlessness, corruption and instability, along with the lack of state resources to address the needs of the most vulnerable populations, contribute to the wide-scale problem. Some districts in Bihar report that over 90 percent of their inhabitants depend upon agricultural labour for subsistence income. The search for alternative income sources results in increased forced labour, as the poor are lured by the prospect of any income earning alternatives. In order to survive, impoverished families send children off to work in factories or sell daughters into what they believe are arranged marriages or well-paying city jobs, unintentionally forcing their children into slave labour or the commercial sex trade.

Solution

In 2007, the North India Human Liberty Initiative was established to reduce the risks of trafficking and help those victimised by it. Focussing on some of the highest-risk districts in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the Initiative prioritised the 3Ps of anti-human trafficking work: Prevention, Protection, and Prosecution. Because the most critical stage at which to combat trafficking is before it starts, particular emphasis was placed on variety of prevention activities – from working with local communities to raise awareness of the tricks traffickers use to lure their victims, to education for children and economic empowerment for women. Improving the status of women and the earning power of families are critical tools to prevent trafficking, and were addressed through the establishment of women’s self-help groups (SHGs), which create viable alternative income by offering training; facilitating income-generating activities; and providing savings, loans and basic education. The protection component of this SI included the rescue of victims and those vulnerable to trafficking, as well as shelter and support services – helping survivors recover and reducing their risk of being trafficked again in the future. Furthermore, through its work with beneficiaries and important stakeholders that influence law enforcement and prosecution against trafficking, the SI sought to activate local law enforcement to be more vigilant and increase legal cases against accused traffickers.

Critical Analysis

Against a challenging landscape of poverty and corruption, the North India Human Liberty Strategic Initiative employed an integrated strategy to combat trafficking through prevention, rescue and rehabilitation, and advocacy interventions in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar’s poorest and most marginalised communities. Despite many challenges, 12 Indian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have provided essential education and services to those vulnerable to trafficking and to its victims. Interventions have addressed a significant root cause of trafficking – chronic poverty – by creating viable alternative income and educational opportunities, particularly for women and children. Local NGOs have brought counselling, shelter and vocational opportunities to red light districts, sometimes providing the only services to neglected communities that have fallen into the inter-generational trap of sex trafficking. Many organisations have successfully intercepted and rescued victims at transit points by working with the police, transportation officials and the media to increase the surveillance and awareness of trafficking activities. On the whole, the SI has succeeded in reducing instances of trafficking, increasing legal cases against accused traffickers, as well as rehabilitating and educating women and children, preventing them from embarking on a journey of exploitation.

Given the prevention focus, a significant accomplishment was the ability of the Initiative’s partners to reach over 80,000 people with the trafficking awareness and prevention messages. They were also successful in reaching an additional 31,000 community influencers, including print and media journalists, police and government officials, who were provided with a better understanding of the laws protecting victims of trafficking. Various programme components focussed on women and children, reducing their risk of becoming victims. Women’s self-help groups increased income for group members. Four partners in this Initiative provide protection in its various forms to children, adolescents and women. Two NGOs in the Initiative work in red light districts, directly addressing the needs of commercial sex workers and their children through non-formal education and vocational training.

Lessons Learned

Successes:

Self-help groups boost women’s value, addressing a root cause of trafficking – Through self-help groups, women learn to read and write, to save and access loans, and to increase family income through income generating activities. As men see how these benefits improve the overall well-being of the family, they recognise the value of women and girls. Women become empowered by their increased sense of self-worth, as well as by their increased value in the eyes of others, including their husbands.

Poor and marginalised gain improved access to government entitlements and social welfare schemes – Many organisations have disseminated information and enabled poor communities to access various government programmes that provide housing benefits and employment opportunities. Most remote and marginalised communities did not know about the entitlements available to them through such schemes. With these programmes, implementers have been able to link the unemployed to government provisions and thus stave the migration of labourers in search of work By preventing migration, these programmes decrease communities’ vulnerability to trafficking.

Challenges:

Lack of economic opportunity – The severe lack of economic opportunity in regions with the greatest poverty continues to leave men, women and children vulnerable to trafficking, slavery and exploitation.

Traditional mindsets can encumber effective education against trafficking – Impoverished communities have long sent children off to work instead of to school, and have viewed female children as burdens to be rid of. Changing long-standing cultural practices and attitudes takes time and sustained intervention. Change will only occur as members see the practical benefits of both education and the economic and social empowerment of women.

Threat of powerful trafficking networks – Many implementers are working in communities to advocate for increased prosecution, enforcement and vigilance against traffickers. Many traffickers, however, have well established, powerful networks in these areas to prevent proper access to justice for the victims of trafficking. Implementers have to work under the threat of these networks to ensure justice and protection for victims.

North India Human Liberty: Featured Projects

SII ScoreProject NameGrantLives ChangedCost Per LifeSector
76.00 Prayas$202,3353,021$66.98
76.00 Mahila Development Center (MDC)$162,5991,533$106.07
64.80 NIRDESH$177,0055,348$33.10
64.60 Guria Swayam Sevi Sansthan$38,314436$87.88
61.20 Bhusura Mahila Vikas Samiti (BMVS)$88,8982,502$35.53
60.80 Tatvasi Samaj Nyas (TSN)$51,7947,830$6.61
57.60 Apne Aap$111,564425$262.50
54.00 Lakshya$93,3199,646$9.67
54.00 Beti Foundation$126,1013,318$38.01
47.60 Mandan Bharti Jagriti Samaj (MBJS)$56,0997,477$7.50
43.20 Pratinidhi Samiti$30,365917$33.11
- Manav Seva Sansthan (MSS Seva)$280,29096,768$2.90
Note: The Social Impact Index Score reflects the relative social impact of a given development project. The lowest possible score is 20; the highest possible score is 100.

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