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Trafficking survivors find their voice on a new platform

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 11, 2019 Published on December 11, 2019

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Around 2,500 survivors of all forms of human trafficking have come together in the last few months to form their own platform and develop strategies to bring awareness about the issue and use every means to end their predicament.

These survivors were trafficked for adult and child labour, as child brides, domestic help, beggars and sex workers.

The platform they have formed -- the Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking (ILFAT) -- was launched last month and is now busy conducting sensitisation sessions for policymakers, educationists and the general public. It hopes to put across its issues at the national level and in due course bring changes in policy.

“I worked in a textile factory in Coimbatore and was rescued after two years by an NGO. Due to acute financial circumstances, I went there through an agent on the promise of eight hours of work and decent pay. But instead, we were held in captivity in the hostel and made to work 12 -13 hours without a break. We were abused if we made a mistake,” recalls 25-year-old Padma (name changed), a survivor who has stepped forward to join the platform and hopes to change the lives of others who are caught in similar circumstances.

Other than Padma, bonded labourers, sex workers, child abuse victims and child labour survivors as well as those working in brick kilns and bangle factories, from different collectives have joined what they call their “common mission to combat human trafficking and improve access to justice for those who have been trafficked”. They come from West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Jharkhand and have charted out key areas which require immediate advocacy efforts. These include victim compensation, mental health aid, breaking the stigma attached to the trafficked victim, re-integration of survivors in the community and punishment to the perpetrators.

“We are rebuilding our lives and want to be considered key stakeholders in the decision-making process. For far too long, decisions have been made without consulting us or understanding our life experiences. We wish to play a participatory role in policy formulation since these laws and policies are about us and they cannot be without us - our voices and participation,” demands an ILFAT leader and hopes that the movement will be seen as a human rights issue and receive large scale support from society.

Published on December 11, 2019
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