Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), a child welfare organization, has sought strong MOU between India and Nepal bilateral agreement to increase cooperation to combat child trafficking across the borders.
Nobel Peace Laureate and BBA founder Kailash Satyarthi said that the children in India and Nepal are suffering from the effects of the pandemic.
“The children in India and Nepal are suffering from the effects of the pandemic. With rising poverty and unemployment, along with school closures, they are at a higher risk of trafficking, both within borders and across the border. Both countries must recognise and prevent this,” Satyarthi said.
Satyarthi was speaking at a virtual Indo-Nepal bilateral dialogue on the trafficking of children across borders hosted by BBA in association with Swatantra Abhiyaan and BASE, Nepal.
“Next year is the UN Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. It is an opportunity to work together and take urgent and collective action. I urge the government officers, law enforcement and civil society of India and Nepal to join the campaign to end child labour. As I always have said, I count on Nepal to lead this fight for children,” he said.
The Indo-Nepal dialogue brought together multiple stakeholders including law enforcement officials, civil society organizations, child survivors and research institutions from both countries, said a statement.
The dignitaries present pledged to collectively work towards ironing out the roadblocks in the repatriation and rehabilitation of victims of cross-border trafficking.
They pressed on the urgent need for governments in both India and Nepal to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which may be designed in a manner similar to the MoU signed by India and Myanmar on bilateral cooperation for the prevention of trafficking in persons.
The speakers used this platform to discuss the issue of cross border trafficking, focusing on the adverse effects of the pandemic, while aiming at tangible solutions to eliminate cross border trafficking.
They also spoke of the need for a portal on traffickers which can be used by law enforcement agencies of both countries.
The deliberations focused on grooming and modus operandi of trafficking, as well as the rehabilitation and repatriation of victims of trafficking.
Some of the pressing challenges faced by victims of trafficking including the inapplicability of Indian laws in Nepal, challenges in prosecution by Indian courts, difficulty in transferring the rehabilitation package to the victims and inability of government officials to send the victims to shelter homes in Nepal were also discussed in detail.
Child survivors Arbind and Srijana who were rescued from child labour by BBA and BASE respectively spoke on this occasion and shared their personal accounts.
Arbind Kumar a survivor of child labour, who currently works as an activist with BBA said, “If we are unable to secure a child’s present, then how do we expect children to be the future of this country? There is an urgent need to take stringent action against trafficking. We want Surakshit Bachpan, Surakshit Bharat and Surakshit Nepal.”
Srijana Tharu, a survivor of trafficking from Nepal, was forced to go to Kathmandu to work as domestic help due to her family’s poor economic condition.
She was rescued by BASE Nepal who helped her enroll to school.
Today, she has returned home to Rati, Harihar Bhawan and is studying in 7th standard.